Title I ARRA Funds Headed to Early Childhood

Dec 03, 2009

By Hannah Matthews

In our continuing exploration of the use of Title I funding for early education, CLASP is focusing on school districts investing Title I American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds in early childhood programs for children from birth through the age of school entry.

While the use of Title I funds for early education is a local decision at the school or school district level, state agencies can also play a role guiding and encouraging districts to invest Title I funds in the early years:

  • The Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has taken a strong leadership role in advancing investments in early learning from birth to age 8. The Department of Early Learning disseminated a presentation on the benefits of using Title I ARRA funds for early learning. At a spring symposium on ARRA funding held for district fiscal officers, OSPI staff led workshops on using Title I for early learning. As a result of these actions, the state expects to see an increase in the number of school districts investing Title I funds in children prior to kindergarten.
  • The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, which had previously issued Guidance on Operating a Title I Preschool Program, recently published Evidence Based Ideas for Using Additional Title I Funds following passage of the ARRA. The document includes a section on early childhood education and recommends that school districts use Title I ARRA funds for preschool, home visiting, and enrichment programs for children entering kindergarten. The Department reports that the number of districts including preschool in their Title I application for ARRA funds increased from seven to 40.

Until recently, there has been little information at the federal level on the use of Title I dollars for early education. However, the U.S. Department of Education is beginning to report on the uses of ARRA funds and with that reporting comes information about early childhood investments. In a publication issued last month, the Department included several examples of school districts that have used Title I ARRA funds for early education:

  • Columbus City Schools is expanding preschool classrooms in high-needs areas and provide an enrichment program for incoming kindergarteners.
  • Seattle Public Schools is supporting ongoing quality assessment of early childhood programs and a kindergarten readiness assessment.
  • Milwaukee Public Schools is expanding its early childhood program by 12 classrooms.
  • Dayton Public Schools was able to retain a Title I Early Childhood Education Parent and Community Facilitator in its schools.

CLASP will continue to monitor both the use of Title I ARRA funds at the local level and state agency actions that encourage these investments. Available information suggests that the availability of economic recovery funds may have been positive for many early childhood programs across the country.

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