The federal government has selected Kentucky for a grant of nearly $36 million to support families and the state’s economy by ensuring more children are ready for kindergarten.
When a child enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82% chance that the child will have mastered basic skills by age 11 compared to a 45% chance for children who are not school ready.
The Office of Early Childhood Development Preschool Development Birth through Five (PDG B-5) grant will provide Kentucky $11.9 million annually over a three-year period. The governor said the funds would help the commonwealth develop and expand early learning programs; building talent pipelines of the early childhood education workforce and expanding access to high quality for the children most in need.
“This funding strengthens our economy with high-quality early childhood education for our future workforce while addressing today’s concerns of working parents of young children,” said Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet Secretary Jamie Link.
The $36 million federal award will build on the $10.6 million PDG B-5 grant to Kentucky in 2019. Since the initial award in 2019, Kentucky has advanced the goals outlined in the grant’s strategic plan.
In addition to managing federal funding, the Beshear-Coleman administration is also increasing state funding for early childhood education. This year, Team Kentucky’s $125.9 million budget request won legislative approval and fully funded a full-day kindergarten for commonwealth children. Over the next two years, Governor Beshear has allocated $1.4 million to the Office of the Governor of Early Childhood. The state will invest $6 million in the state’s Regional Collaborative Network and $1.4 million annually.
As part of its commitment to early childhood education, the Governor has proposed the First Education Plan for consideration in the upcoming 2023 legislative assembly. The Governor’s plan aims to address the loss of student learning caused by the pandemic and years of denial of raises that have contributed to nearly 11,000 public school teacher vacancies in the state, by providing funds for a 5% pay increase for school staff, pre- Universal K , textbooks, technology and training, teacher student loan forgiveness and social and mental health services. The governor also asked lawmakers to consider reinstating new teacher pensions, which he said was the single most effective action we can take to retain new teachers in the classroom.
“Kentucky has long promoted greater collaboration, emphasizing high quality and continuous improvement to ensure more children are ready to enter kindergarten,” said Office of the Governor of Early Childhood Executive Director Amy Neal. “Our innovative and ambitious plan with this new federal funding will continue to transform the commonwealth into the best place to start and raise families.”