FRANKFORT, KY — Governor Andy Beshear says a $36 million grant from the federal government will be used to develop and expand early learning programs; establish early childhood education “labor talent pipeline;” and expanding access to high-quality education for the children most in need.
Beshear announced the grant in Team Kentucky update on Thursday, saying, “This is an investment in our children and also in our future workforce and economy. This is personal to me as a father, because I want all of our children to have the best chance here.
According to a release from Beshear’s office, children who enter “kindergarten ready” schools have an 82% chance of mastering basic skills by age 11, compared with a 45% chance for children who are not school ready.
Release explained Office of Early Childhood Development Preschool Development Birth to Five grants will be distributed over a three-year time period, with $11.9 million awarded to Kentucky each year.
In a statement included in the release, Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet Secretary Jamie Link said the funding “strengthens our economy with high-quality early childhood education for our future workforce while addressing the concerns of parents working with young children today.”
Beshear has proposed a plan to address student learning difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — the Education First Plan — which he will reportedly introduce at the 2023 legislative session.
According to the release, the plan includes salary increases for school staff, teacher student loan forgiveness, social and mental health services, and more.
He also asked lawmakers to consider reinstating new teacher pensions, the release explained.