HARRISBURG, Pa., April 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Wolf today announced key next steps to further his administration's goal of expanding quality Pre-K education for families and children across the commonwealth. The Wolf Administration, through the PA Department of Education (PDE), is accepting applications for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program grants.
"Pennsylvania's publicly funded Pre-K and early education programs provide the foundation children need to enter school ready to learn," said Governor Wolf. "I'm excited to announce this historic expansion. We are taking proactive steps to ensure that more students have access to high-quality early education options."
PDE is issuing two Requests for Proposals today to support providers' ability to serve children and be ready for enrollment by September 2015. The administration recognizes that providers need to conduct outreach to families; recruit, hire and train staff; and plan for successful implementation of the programs upon approval of proposed funding.
Governor Wolf's 2015-16 proposed budget makes historic investments in education to prepare children for the jobs of tomorrow, including an additional $120 million more for early childhood education.
"Investing in quality early childhood education is a proven strategy for improving academic outcomes and success later in life," acting Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. "Early childhood education provides students with a strong foundation for elementary school, and can also spark an interest in lifelong learning."
With new investments in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts ($100 million) and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program ($20 million), the state will be able to increase the number of children served in high-quality pre-kindergarten by 75 percent. These proposed increases represent the first step in achieving the goal of universal access to high quality pre-kindergarten programs for families across the commonwealth.
"Quality early child care and education lay the ground work for improved social skills, a lessened need for special education instruction, better grades, and enhanced attention spans," said acting DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. "We are proud to partner with PDE to further Governor Wolf's mission of improved access to high-quality Pre-K in the commonwealth."
The Pre-K Counts competitive opportunity will select eligible grantees for a three-year grant period beginning in FY 2015-16. Pennsylvania continues to be committed to a mixed delivery system. As such, eligible applicants include existing Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts grantees and new applicants from one of these five eligible entity categories:
- Child care centers and group child care homes designated at Keystone STAR 3 or STAR 4;
- Head Start grantees;
- Licensed nursery schools;
- School districts; and
- A third party entity may apply for Pennsylvania PreK Counts funding and administer the lead agency responsibilities for entities that are eligible to provide the classroom services under the categories listed above.
With the competitive Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program opportunity, PDE will select eligible grantees for a two-year grant period beginning this year. The following entities are eligible to apply in the competitive process for FY 2015-16:
- Current Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program grantees
- Head Start grantees
- Early Head Start grantees
PDE will initiate the process by accepting Letters of Intent from qualified early education providers. The Letter of Intent represents the applicant's intention to apply for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program funding and includes preliminary information about requested funding, program model, provider type, and area to be served. The Letter of Intent is a requirement to gain access to the eGrants system and to be eligible to submit an application for funding. The deadline for this phase is April 29.
For more information and to apply, visit. http://www.pakeys.org/pages/get.aspx?page=Programs_PreK_Apply
MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Sheridan – 717.783.1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor