U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Award $247.4 million in Preschool Grants to 18 States

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U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. announced today that 18 states will receive more than $247.4 million in awards under the Preschool Development Grant program to continue their work in expanding access to high-quality preschool for children from low- to moderate-income families.

The grants are the third year of awards to states that are working with local communities to prepare the nation’s most vulnerable children for success in school and beyond. Jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the grant program has invested $750 million and expanded access to new high-quality preschool classrooms, or improved classrooms, in 230 high-need communities.

“High-quality early education gives children the strong start they need to succeed in kindergarten,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “The Obama Administration has made great progress in providing access to high-quality early learning, but we must do more. All of our children—regardless of socioeconomic status, race, language spoken at home, disability or zip code—deserve the kind of high-quality early learning opportunities that will prepare them to thrive in school and beyond.”

Today, the Department also released a national report and 18 state progress reports on the PDG program. The reports detail how states are meeting the high-quality standards and improving access to early learning for at-risk children. Classrooms improved by supporting well-qualified and compensated teachers, expanding to full-day, reducing class size or child-teacher ratios, providing evidence-based professional development, and providing comprehensive services.

Last school year, more than 28,000 children from low-income families had access to high-quality early learning because of the Preschool Development Grants program. This year, another 35,000 had the chance to enroll in these programs.

With the support of Preschool Development Grants, states have demonstrated a strong commitment to closing equity gaps and expanding opportunities so that all children have a chance to succeed. States met nearly 90 percent of their targets for the number of children served. Six states—Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia—met or substantially exceeded their targets, reaching 1,387 more children than planned. In their applications, states committed to provide inclusive opportunities for children with disabilities. Across all of the grantees, of the 28,202 children served, 2,391 (8.5 percent) were children with disabilities, which is above the national average of 4-year-old children with disabilities in the United States (6.4 percent).

High-quality preschool helps create the foundation for children to thrive in school and in life. Studies show that children who participate in quality preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school, grow up healthy, avoid involvement in our criminal justice system, and find good jobs. The Obama Administration has made expanding high-quality early education a priority.

In addition to Preschool Development Grants, the Administration’s more than $1 billion investment in the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grants across 20 states has resulted in hundreds of thousands more children—particularly those with high-needs and from low-income families—being enrolled in high-quality, state-funded preschool and other early learning programs than there were in 2011. And nearly 70,000 more early learning programs in the Early Learning Challenge states now participate in quality rating systems to enhance their programs, with more than 21,000 now rated highest in quality—more than double the number five years ago.

A new preschool program is included in the nation’s new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which also for the first time includes provisions to promote coordination in early learning among local communities; align preschool with early elementary school; and build the capacity of teachers, leaders, and others serving young children to provide the highest-quality early learning opportunities.

Expanding access to high-quality early education is among the smartest investments that we can make as a country. President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal includes expanding high-quality preschool through programs through the following proposals:

  • $75 billion over 10 years for the Preschool for All proposal to provide voluntary, universal high-quality preschool programs for all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.
  • $350 million for Preschool Development Grants, an increase of $100 million over the FY 2016 funding level, to help states lay the foundation for universal public preschool.
  • An additional $82 billion over 10 years for the Child Care and Development Fund to provide high-quality child care for all low- and middle-income families with young children.
  • $434 million in additional funding for the Head Start program to increase the duration of Head Start services and maintain program quality and enrollment.

Year 3 Preschool Development Grants Awards


FY 16 Funding

























New Jersey


New York


Rhode Island