Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York state will compete in the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. New York is eligible to receive up to $100 million to improve the quality and access of early learning programs that provide a solid foundation for all of New York's children. The Early Learning Challenge will reward states that create comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems with better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development.
"A quality education is our promise to every child, and it begins with first-rate early learning programs," Governor Cuomo said. "Early learning is critical to providing the building blocks for school readiness and student achievement, and helps create a well-rounded and educated workforce that is vital to New York's future. I commend the Obama Administration for making quality early education a priority."
The Governor's Office will work closely with the New York State Education Department, the New York State Department of Health, and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, including the Early Childhood Advisory Council, to develop the application.
State Education Commissioner John B. King said, "The Regents and I are delighted that Governor Cuomo has chosen to participate in the federal government's Race to the Top - Early Learning Competition. We look forward to working with him to develop a rigorous, innovative proposal that supports the Regents reform agenda and provides critical opportunities for high-quality early learning programs and parent engagement."
State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said, "The first years of life for young children in New York are the most important for assuring that the best health and educational outcomes are achieved by all. The Department of Health supports New York state's application for federal funding under the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant and will serve as a key partner in its efforts to improve the quality of early childhood programs across state agencies. New York is a leader nationally in its implementation of current programs such as the Early Intervention Program and Child and Adult Care Food Programs. An increased federal investment will assure that these and other programs are available to assure that even more disadvantaged children receive the strong start they need on the road to becoming healthy and productive citizens."
OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrin said, "The Office of Children and Family Services has been focused on improving the quality of child care for the youngest populations, giving them the strong foundation they need to live successful and healthy lives. This potential funding is a critical opportunity to partner with other state agencies to meet the needs of children who are most vulnerable."
ECAC Co-Chair Bob Frawley said, "The Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC), which I co-chair, has been working to build the necessary components of the system that these grants have been designed to support. We are ready to take the next step in establishing a high quality system of early care and education that meets the needs of our youngest citizens. In so doing, we will take an important step in preparing children for success in school and life."
ECAC Co-Chair Sherry Cleary said, "Currently, services designed to provide care and education for young children, are provided by a patchwork of programs and services. If we want young children to thrive and become successful, contributing adults, we have to do better. New York state is poised to lead the nation in building a system of services that ensures improved outcomes for children. This grant opportunity would provide the support needed to build that system."
President of Bank Street College of Education, New York City, Elizabeth D. Dickey said, "All of the evidence points to the importance of early learning in predicting a child's success in school. While other, later points of intervention for children exist, the early learning stage is the most critical, the most cost-effective, and the most impactful. We do best for our children when we start at the beginning and establish the necessary foundation for learning at the earliest moments. I am very pleased that the State of New York is responding enthusiastically to the RTTT Early Learning Challenge."
On May 15, 2011, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge, a new $500 million state-level grant competition. The competition is designed to encourage States to increase access to quality early learning programs for low income and disadvantaged children, design integrated and transparent systems that align their early care and education programs, bolster training and support for the early learning workforce, create robust evaluation systems to document and share effective practices and successful programs, and help parents make informed decisions about care for their children.
On July 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Education released preliminary criteria to identify components of a successful grant application. By late August, final criteria are expected to be released. Applications are expected to be due in mid-October and awards will be made by the end of December 2011.
New York is one of four states (along with California, Florida, and Texas) eligible to receive up to $100 million, the largest available grant category. This is based on the State's share of the national population of children ages birth through five years old from low-income families.
Last year, in June 2010, New York was awarded nearly $700 million in the second round of the original Race to the Top competition that set aside an historic $4 billion for states to improve educational outcomes from kindergarten through college. The New York State Education Department was the Governor's designated lead agency in that competition. The competition focused on world class standards and assessments, ensuring effective and qualified teachers for all students, utilizing strong data systems and improving the lowest performing schools in the state.