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Reed Strengthens Pre-School, Head Start, & Affordable Child Care Options for RI Families

Through his work on the Appropriations Committee, Senator Reed delivers additional
funding to improve the quality of preschool and child care programs

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WOONSOCKET, RI – In an effort to strengthen child care for working families with
young children, U.S. Senator Jack Reed increased federal funding for Rhode Island
preschool and early childhood learning programs. Today, Reed joined with Rhode
Island KIDS COUNT and early childhood educators from across the state for a tour of
the Karen G. Bouchard Children’s Center in Park Square and a discussion on the need
to invest in early childhood programs.

Reed helped successfully provide $250 million to continue support for Preschool
Development Grants in the fiscal year 2016 Appropriations bill. At this level of
funding, Rhode Island is slated to receive $19 million over four years to support,
build, and expand high-quality pre-K programs for four-year-olds throughout the
state. In 2014, Rhode Island was one of 18 states nationwide awarded a Preschool
Development Grant. So far the state has received $8.1 million in federal funds for
the first two years of the program. After Republicans in Congress attempted to cut
the funding last year, Reed helped lead successful efforts to restore it, which
means the state will receive another $6 million this year to boost access and build
upon the success of preschool programs.

Senator Reed also supported $2.76 billion for the Child Care and Development Block
Grant (CCDBG), a $326 million increase. As a result, Rhode Island should be
eligible to receive over $17 million annually in federal child care subsidies from
the Child Care and Development Fund. Using federal and state resources, the Rhode
Island Child Care Assistance Program serves over 9,500 children annually.

Reed also worked to boost funding for Head Start by $570 million to $9.2 billion.
This funding will support more than 2,800 Rhode Island children in Head Start and
Early Head Start programs and includes a new $1.9 million annual federal Early Head
Start – Child Care Partnership grant awarded in 2015 to support a collaborative
effort among Rhode Island Early Head Start and child care programs to provide
high-quality, comprehensive programs for infants and toddlers living in poverty.

«Our children are our top priority and smart investments in these early childhood
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 and Rhode Island can continue to expand its preschool
program,» said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

«The importance of access to high-quality early childhood programs for all Rhode
Island families cannot be overstated. Early experiences lay the foundation for
future learning,» said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island
KIDS COUNT. «Investing in affordable, high-quality programs and opportunities in
the earliest years will pay dividends to Rhode Islanders in terms of short-term
benefits and long-term gains. We appreciate Senator Reed’s strong leadership to
increase federal investments in child care, Head Start, Pre-K and Early Head
Start/Child Care partnerships. Federal-state partnerships make an enormous
difference to our ability to reach more children and improve outcomes.»

«As a recipient of federal and State Head Start and Pre-K funds our agency is proud
to put those dollars to work in high quality early education classrooms. We see the
impact of improving school readiness outcomes for our children every year and we
know that when these children enter the door on their first day of kindergarten they
are ready to succeed,» said Mary Varr, Executive Director of the Woonsocket Head
Start Child Development Association. «But that’s not enough. We always strive to
do more and reach families and children earlier. That is why last year our infant
toddler childcare program became partners with Children’s Friend to provide Early
Head Start in our city. For us, and our early childhood peers in the state, our
priority is to provide high quality early education and care for our youngest
learners today so they can be effective leaders tomorrow.»

There are currently 33 Rhode Island State Pre-K classrooms in nine communities
(Cranston, Central Falls, East Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick,
West Warwick, and Woonsocket) that annually serve almost 600 children. Additional
classrooms will be opened in the next school year. Children who live in the State
Pre-K communities are selected to participate through a state-supervised lottery
with children from families at or below 185% of the federal poverty level
prioritized for enrollment based on the proportion of low-income children in the
local school district.

According to a report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, early
learning initiatives would provide benefits to society of roughly $8.60 for every $1
spent, about half of which comes from increased earnings for children when they grow
up. Investments in preschool and other high-quality early education programs also
improve student outcomes and reduce spending on remedial education & grade
repetition.

Reed also noted that Rhode Island was a first round winner of the federal Race to
the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant for $50 million over five years (2011-2016)
to improve the quality of early learning programs for high needs children.

«Rhode Island is a leader in creating a collaborative system of child care and early
education. That is why our state was successful in winning a Race to the Top Early
Learning Challenge Grant and a Preschool Development Grant. Our success is in
large part because of our dedicated educators and advocates, as well as the
leadership of Governor Raimondo and state and local officials who are committed to
improving access to preschool programs and other high-quality early childhood
education opportunities,» stated Reed, who is also working on legislation, the
Strong Start Act, and cosponsoring a bill known as the CARE Act with Senator Bob
Casey (D-PA) to ramp up our investment in child care – especially in the early
years. «Investing in preschool and providing parents with access to high-quality,
affordable child care is critical to generating the best outcomes in education,
health, and economic well-being.»