Title I and Early Education

June 11, 2009

Models for Using ARRA Funds

Related Material:

What Are The Key Components of High-Quality Early Education?

Making The Case for High-Quality Investments in Young Children

Download this page as a pdf file.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included $13 billion in funding for Title I of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which provides resources for disadvantaged students. Title I is a flexible funding source that may be used to support components of high-quality early education programs. Spending on early childhood programs for children from birth through the age of school entry has always been a permitted use of Title I funds. Yet, currently, only a small amount (approximately 2-3 percent) of Title I funds nationally are spent on early education.

Department of Education (ED) guidance on ARRA and Title I states:

ED encourages LEAs to give particular consideration to early childhood education and programs serving secondary schools, areas for which they may not have had sufficient resources in the past.

Yet, ED has offered few specifics on how districts should be using these funds for early childhood education. ED guidance from 2004, however, provides additional information on serving preschool-aged children with Title I, based on the NCLB law. Under ARRA, Title I funds may be used for any activities permitted under the Title I provisions of NCLB. 

CLASP has extensively studied Title I investments in early education programs in local communities. We interviewed Title I directors, district superintendents, and others across the country to look closer at these investments to understand the barriers and flexibility in the law. We have identified more than 100 schools and districts with some history of using Title I for young children.

This page is intended as a resource for school districts planning Title I investments in early childhood programs. Models are meant to be illustrative for districts thinking about the opportunities of Title I funding.1

Key issues:


How Can Title I Be Used for Early Education?

Title I funds may be layered with federal, state, or local funds to provide high-quality preschool services for additional children or to extend the day for children already participating in preschool programs. According to ED guidance, Title I preschool services may be provided for children beginning at birth and up to the age at which the school district requires attendance in elementary education.

Funds may supplement or expand existing early education programs, including state-funded pre-kindergarten and Head Start, and may be used in conjunction with community-based child care programs. Title I may be used for districtwide programs, or at the school level for schoolwide programs or targeted assistance programs.

In addition to direct educational services, Title I funds may be used to fund:

  • Teachers' salaries
  • Professional development
  • Counseling services
  • Minor remodeling
  • Leasing or renting space in private facilities
  • Comprehensive services, including access to medical services
  • Diagnostic screening


What are the Benefits of Using Title I?

Title I funds are flexible and can be used for a range of services that support quality early education, including comprehensive services for at-risk families and professional development for early childhood providers. Title I funds, though allocated to LEAs, can be used in community-based settings including child care and Head Start. This offers an opportunity to build quality in all early childhood settings and reach more young children. Title I preschool guidance states:

Preschool services may be provided at any location that other Title I services may be proved, including public school buildings, public libraries, community centers, privately owned facilities (including facilities owned by faith-based organizations (FBOs)), the child's home and other appropriate settings.

If appropriate district or school facilities are not available for preschool services, the district and school should consider working with children in existing childcare programs such as Head Start, Even Start, Early Reading First, or a program funded under the Child Care Development Block Grant, or a site conducting a family literacy program. In any case, the setting should be of sufficient quality to facilitate effective program implementation.


Models of Title I funded Early Education

Title I may be layered with other funding sources to support programs from infant/toddler services to pre-kindergarten and Head Start 

The Chicago-Child Parent Centers have provided comprehensive educational and family support services to low-income children in high-poverty neighborhoods since 1967. Components of the program include parent and community outreach, home visiting, parental involvement activities, comprehensive health screening and services, and a language-focused curriculum. Title I has supported all program components since 1967.

Davenport Community Schools in Iowa funds full-day, early childhood centers for children from birth to age five. Title I supports infant and toddler classrooms in the Children's Villages. State grants, special education, Head Start funding and tuition support integrated preschool classrooms.

Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland will use Title I ARRA funds to expand the availability of full-day Head Start from 13 classrooms in 10 Title I schools to 21 classrooms in 18 Title I schools.

Asheville City Schools in North Carolina layers Title I, state pre-kindergarten, Head Start, and child care subsidy funds to support two full-day, full-year preschool classrooms for 4-year olds who qualify. The programs are available from 7:15 to 5:30, with a teacher with a bachelor's degree and birth-K certification in the program for 7.5 hours. 

Houston Independent School District in Texas layers Title I with state pre-kindergarten and local dollars to provide full-school-day preschool to all eligible 4-year-olds in the district. The district began using Title I for pre-kindergarten in 2004 and has since more than doubled the amount used. In 2005, Houston began offering a half-day program to all eligible 4-year-olds, and in 2006 it expanded it to a full-school-day program. The full cost of the pre-kindergarten program is supported by Title I, school funding, and state pre-kindergarten expansion grants.  

Hamilton County Public Schools in Chattanooga, Tennessee layers Title I with Head Start and state pre-kindergarten funds. In 2006, 37 pre-kindergarten classes served 740 students in full school-day programs, with a variety of funding sources and in a variety of school-based and community-based settings. More than half of the classrooms use some Title I funding: 12 classes are funded entirely with Title I funds; two combine Head Start and Title I; and five combine state pre-kindergarten funds with Title I dollars. The remaining classes are funded with state and local funds.  Regardless of the setting or funding stream, all classes in Hamilton County use the same curriculum and assessments, and all teachers receive the same professional development, some of which is funded through Title I. In solely Title I funded classes, Title I pays for salaries, materials, parent involvement, and field trips. In layered models, Title I funds cover teacher salaries and Head Start funds cover the program costs, including comprehensive services, or the state funds pay for teacher salaries and Title I funds cover materials and program components. 


Title I may be used in community-based settings, including Head Start

McDowell County Schools in West Virginia have 10 Title I pre-kindergarten classrooms in public schools. Until recently, Title I funded the salaries of two teachers in Head Start classrooms in the community. McDowell actively collaborates with Head Start providers. They meet regularly and conduct joint trainings and professional development. Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, the pre-kindergarten teachers in the Head Start classrooms are funded through the school funding formula as dollars were made available to expand universal pre-kindergarten in the state. Title I dollars support initiatives such as staff professional development and parental involvement.

Title I may be used for diagnostic screening and assessments 

Melrose Public Schools in Massachusetts uses Title I to offer comprehensive screening to all 4-year-olds in the district, to identify children who are at risk and connect families to preschool programs prior to entry to kindergarten.

Title I may be used for home-based services 

Roseburg Public Schools in Oregon uses Title I to support a home-based early education program, modeled after Head Start, for 4-year-olds who do not qualify for Head Start or other programs. 


Additional Resources

Department of Education



1Most models are based on CLASP research from 2004 to 2007 and reflect point in time information. The specific details in school districts (for example, the amount of Title I funds used for early education) may have changed since the time of CLASP's research. To share a Title I model, please contact Hannah Matthews.   



site by Trilogy Interactive