State Aims to Increase Early Childhood Education Opportunities Through Grant

Fri 08/22/14 - 09:18

Department hosts roundtable discussion with stakeholders to gather feedback

As studies continue to show the importance of high-quality early childhood education, the Department has announced Missouri will apply for a federal grant that would produce needed funds for pre-K education in the state.

The U.S. Department of Education Preschool Development Grant would provide the state with up to $17.5 million per year to expand high-quality preschool for 4-year-olds in targeted high-needs communities. The grant is renewable for up to four years and would allow Missouri to greatly expand its early childhood education program.

The Department held a roundtable discussion on Tuesday with more than 60 stakeholders including educators, early childhood experts, teaching organizations and other interested groups to discuss the need for more high-quality early childhood education in Missouri. The session focused on how to best present those needs moving forward.

“It is important all children have access to high-quality early childhood education,” said Janet Rinehart, director of the Missouri Preschool Project Learning Community Program and Project Construct. “This is the first step in ensuring all Missouri children have that.”

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, Missouri is near the bottom in terms of funding for pre-K programs, ranking 38th out of 41 states with a state preschool program.

“It is clear that investing in early childhood education is imperative for the success of Missouri’s children,” said Stacey Preis, assistant commissioner in the office of Early and Extended Learning. “We must continue to increase the availability of high-quality preschool in Missouri so children can enter kindergarten ready for school.”

States that receive the grant will be announced in December.

Ensuring that all Missouri children enter kindergarten prepared to be successful in school is one of the primary goals of the Department’s Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for Missouri to be one of the top 10 states for education by 2020.