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Improve Early Grade-level Reading


How Can Policymakers Finance Improving Early Grade Reading and Math Proficiency?

  • Maximize federal funds.
    • Target flexible block grant dollars to effective programs and infrastructure.  Use allowable match sources (including state, local and private funding) to draw down all available federal dollars that have state matching requirements.  Arkansas uses state pre-kindergarten funding to meet 20 percent (maximum allowed) of its matching requirement for Child Care and Development Funds (CCDF) funds. [i]
    • Encourage local use of Title I funding. Title I funding of the No Child Left Behind Act may be used for young children beginning at birth, at the discretion of local education agencies (LEAs). California’s First 5 Commission encouraged a 76 percent increase in use of Title I for early education through technical assistance and planning grants. [ii]
    • Blend and braid funding. Kansas and Maryland fund inclusive preschool programs for children with and without disabilities by combining state funds with Federal Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities, offered under Part B (Section 619) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). [iii]
  • Supplement federal funds.  Kansas Early Head Start uses $11 million (FY 2008) in state CCDBG quality set-aside dollars, general funds, and tobacco settlement dollars to expand Early Head Start programs. The program and partners with the federal ACF Region VII Office for monitoring and training and technical assistance to state grantees. [iv]
  • Include Early Care and Education in the State School Funding Formula. Wisconsin’s 4 Year Old Kindergarten program is included in the school funding formula, but local communities must raise one-third of their district’s pre-k funding through property taxes. [v] 
  • Leverage private funding. In 2006, the Nebraska Legislature passed, and the governor signed, a bill to establish the Nebraska Birth to Three Early Childhood Education Endowment with $40 million in public funds matched by $20 million from private philanthropic sources. Investment earnings are pooled to fund grants to schools and community partners to provide programs and services for at-risk children from birth to age 3.

[i] Child Care and Development Funds: Report of State Plans FY 2006-2007. Washington, DC: Child Care Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008 p 33.

[ii] Ewen, D. and Matthews, H. (2007, October). Title I and Early Child ood Programs: A Look at Investments in the NCLB Era. Child Care and Early Education Series, October 2007, No. 2. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy.  .   

[iii] Lovejoy, A. (2003). State Strategies for Financing Quality Preschool. In Governor’s Forum on Quality Preschool.

[iv] Schumacher, R. and DiLauro, E., (2008). Building on the Promise: State Initiatives to Expand Access to Early Head Start for Young Children and their Families.  Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy, ZERO TO THREE.  

[v] Stone, D. (2008). Funding the Future: State Approaches to Pre-K Finance, 2008 Update. PreK Now Research Series. Washington: PreK Now.