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

WOONSOCKET, RI – In an effort to strengthen child care for working families with
young children, U.S. Senator Jack Reed will announce significant new increases in
federal funding for Rhode Island preschool and early childhood learning programs.
Tomorrow, February 26 at 11:00 a.m., Reed will join with Rhode Island KIDS COUNT and
early childhood learning educators from across the state for a tour of the Karen G.
Bouchard Children’s Center in Woonsocket and a discussion on the need to invest in
early childhood programs.

Senator Reed will join with Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode
Island KIDS COUNT and Mary Varr, Executive Director of the Woonsocket Head Start
Child Development Association, to outline new federal funding to boost early
learning opportunities across the state, including a $6 million boost this year to
build upon the success of local preschool programs.

Senator Reed also increased funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
(CCDBG) this year by $326 million, bringing the national total to $2.76 billion. 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.

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 and grade
repetition.

Rhode Island was also 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.