U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, announced Wednesday that Rhode Island preschool programs will receive $6,043,131 from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services through the Preschool Development Grant Program. Rhode Island is one of 18 states awarded funds to expand access to preschool for children from low- to moderate-income families.
In a press release the state Congressional delegation lauded the grant.
“Early childhood education programs benefit families, communities, and our economy. We want every child to have a chance to start off strong and achieve their full potential. I am proud to have helped deliver these funds. Because we stood firm and staved off the elimination of funding for the Preschool Development Grant, more kids are going to get an opportunity to learn,” said Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who helped successfully provide $250 million to continue support for Preschool Development Grants in the fiscal year 2017 Appropriations bill.
“Every mom and dad wants their kid to have the chance to do well in school right from the start,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “These federal resources will help open the doors of quality early education centers to more of Rhode Island’s littlest learners.”
“Early education is the foundation upon which student success is built, especially for low-income and at-risk children,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “By increasing access to preschool and other early learning opportunities, that foundation is strengthened for hundreds more young people, giving them the skills, confidence, and support they need to perform in kindergarten and throughout their educational experience.”
“This funding is great news for Rhode Island’s families. Ensuring high-quality early education is one of the most effective ways we can help Rhode Island children do better in school,” said Congressman David Cicilline, who advocated for this funding. “All of Rhode Island’s children deserve access to preschool educations that set them up to succeed in school and compete for the high-paying jobs of the 21st Century. This report clearly demonstrates that our state is meeting its goals for improving access in high-needs communities, and this funding will help us continue to close the achievement gap and ensure all our children have the opportunities they deserve to build necessary skills and thrive academically.”
Over the past three years, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have invested $750 million nationwide to expand access to early education in 230 high-need communities. Rhode Island is one of six states that met or substantially exceeded enrollment targets. Between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years, the state increased the number of classrooms served from 17 to 33, representing 594 students.