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Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2013.

This document highlights the accomplishments of the The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development (ECD) which is the focal point within HHS for early childhood development. ECD provides oversight to two of the largest early childhood federal programs – Head Start and Child Care including the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships. The office also co-administers the Tribal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) with the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and co-administers the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge and Preschool Development Grants with the U.S. Department of Education.

The Northern Mariana Island’s (CNMI) Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (Partnership) is administered through a collaborative partnership between the CNMI Public School System and the CNMI Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the state agency that oversees the state’s child care subsidy program. The Partnership is embedded within a broader systemic strategy aimed at strengthening CNMI’s comprehensive Birth-5 continuum. Based on the strong relationship the Partnership enjoys with the Commonwealth’s public school system, transition planning is incorporated into family plans and maintains a strong focus within the grant initiative.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services’ Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (Partnership) is administrated by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). The state agency contracts with six existing Head Start/Early Head Start (EHS) centers and one private child care center that serve as regional hubs. Hubs may provide direct services or partner with other child care centers to support the delivery of comprehensive services. Currently, the state’s Partnership involves only center providers. Hubs also host a Community of Practice among their child care partners to support professional learning.

Georgia’s Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership is designed to leverage coordination with other key organizations in order to develop a system of shared services in two high-poverty areas within the state. As the lead agency, Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) provides administrative and financial management, quality assurance and monitoring, and works with state and local agencies to provide key services, including facilitation of referrals.

Delaware’s Early Head Start Child Care Partnership (Partnership) grant is housed within the Office of Early Learning, which administers DE’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), Delaware Stars, CCDF licensing and Head Start Collaboration. Both family and center based partners participate. All of the center and family provider partners operate at a 3, 4 or 5 QRIS rating. Each partner identifies county-level service priorities, which include dual-language children, homeless children, children in foster care, and children in military families.                                                  

California’s Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (Partnership) is designed to build on existing state infrastructure that supports a high-quality early care and education system. The Partnership involves both center and family child care home education networks centered in 11 rural counties in Northern California where previously awarded federal grant funds from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funds were not available.

Alabama’s Department of Human Resources’ (DHR) Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (Partnership) is made up of seven partnerships among existing Head Start programs and a partnership with Auburn University to build the capacity among a network of licensed family child care providers. Prior to entering the Partnership, all of the participating licensed 20 child care centers and 61 family child care homes took part in a readiness assessment to determine their capacity to meet EHS standards. Partners also engage in an annual self-assessment. The state has also established a Parent Policy Council to advise on the administration of the Partnership grant.

President Obama’s commitment to early childhood education is not new. It began with support to build an infrastructure for early childhood systems with support for State Advisory Councils and the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTTT ELC). These were bold actions, ones clearly designed to improve early learning and development systems. These systems across the states raise the quality of early learning and development programs so that all children receive the support they need to enter kindergarten ready to succeed.