Time for Action: Shaping the Direction for Early Care and Education

Starting with funding for federal Fiscal Year 2014, Preschool Development Grants (PDG) were a competitive federal grant for states to expand access to high-quality preschool services for four-year-olds.

Then, things changed and Congress invested in a new way of thinking about Preschool Development Grants: a birth-to-five approach, and more direction on mixed delivery of services. The Birth-to-Five Preschool Development Grants are an important chance to educate state leaders about our community; our child care centers, family child care homes, home visiting programs, Judy Centers, and school partnerships; and the families who are counting on us.

We are in the first year of our state grant, which is focused on a community needs assessment and a strategic plan for birth-to-five. The idea is that Maryland and the other states could apply for federal funds that would start next year to begin implementing the plan.

Well, what’s the plan? Let’s shape it together.

Hundreds of us chimed in on the community needs assessment, sharing the things that are stressing programs and families, and sharing ideas for solutions. There were 18 town hall meetings, 17 focus groups, and surveys too.

You’ll find the full report and a handy Executive Summary of the Community Needs Assessment here: https://earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org/pdg-b-5-findings-and-reports

Please also take a look at the Voices from the Field report. So many of us spoke up and shared our real experiences, and those ideas were so rich and influential, that they compiled them together so we could help others learn about problems and solutions. You’ll find that full report and a handy summary here: https://earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org/pdg-b-5-findings-and-reports

The strategic plan should reflect these needs that were expressed so strongly from Prince George’s county and across the state.

To make sure they’re accomplishing this, MSDE announced a series of roundtable discussions taking place across the state. The roundtable on September 16 in Prince George’s County filled up fast. We are advocating for an additional session to take place in our county, in the evening hours.

These will be facilitated working sessions, and a chance to talk about supporting the role of community-based child care centers and family child care homes and what it takes to succeed in program operations, what it takes for children to thrive, and what it takes to meet families’ needs.

In early October, MSDE will circulate a draft of the strategic plan, and there will be a public comment period. This is another important chance to be heard and be included. When the draft is released, we will review it together and prepare a response.

This is a huge opportunity to get done what needs to be done. Every experience and every idea you’ve  shared and we’ve advocated together to accomplish, has brought us to this point. Let’s make sure that the real life needs of our community are reflected in the strategic plan.

Let’s work together! A great way to be a part of this teamwork is to sign up for Joining Voices.  The next Joining Voices meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, October 15.

 If you have any questions, please contact Yenny Lucero at ylucero@pgcrc.org

Posted on September 12, 2019