The Education Dept. (DoEd) rolls out a $2.8 million Preschool Pay for Success grant competition to help state, local and tribal governments explore using PFS funding to expand and improve early learning.
Deadline: Oct. 6; the competition is: Preschool Development Grants—Preschool Pay for Success Feasibility Pilot (CFDA Number: 84.419C).
There will be between seven and 14 grantees, with awards ranging from $200,000 to $400,000.
Awardees will use the pilot feasibility studies to determine if this model is an effective strategy to implement preschool programs that are high-quality and yield meaningful results.
“We have made great strides in improving the quality of early learning and expanding access through investments like the Preschool Development Grants and the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants,” DoEd Secy. John King said. “These new grants are one way to answer the question of how we can do a better job to make sure we provide access to high-quality preschool and ensure it’s available to our kids most at risk.”
Like other discretionary DoEd competitions, this one supports initiatives which are based on evidence and focused on outcomes. The projects must improve early, elementary, secondary and postsecondary education, while generating savings for taxpayers. The studies will identify a broad range of measures designed to demonstrate improved student outcomes; potential cost savings to school districts, local governments and states; and general benefits to society.
Potential outcome measures may include:
- Kindergarten readiness
- Later improved social and emotional skills
- Improved executive functioning
- Reduction in grade retention and in the need for later special education
- Reduction in discipline referrals, and interactions with law enforcement
- Increases in high school graduation.
The ultimate aim of the pilot is to improve early learning outcomes through a future high-quality Pay for Success project by providing grants for feasibility studies. However, the pilot does not fund the implementation of preschool services. Support for those services will have to come from other sources identified in the pilot.
Preschool programs that are the focus of these feasibility studies must be inclusive of children with disabilities and the pilot will also establish safeguards to protect the rights of children with disabilities to ensure that they receive the services they need.
Across the country, interest continues to grow in the PFS model for preschool financing. The model leverages philanthropic and private dollars – through innovative contracting and financing – that seek to test and advance promising and proven interventions, while paying only for successful impacts and outcomes for families, children, and communities.
Under PFS, a government or other entity enters into a contract to pay a service provider for the achievement of concrete, measurable outcomes for specific people or communities. Service providers deliver interventions to achieve these outcomes and payments are made only if the interventions achieve those outcomes agreed upon in advance.
Communities where it is difficult or not possible to secure new or additional government resources may choose to pursue a PFS preschool project as a short-term strategy to finance the immediate costs of providing preschool services or as one strategy to promote more effective investments of public dollars. A feasibility study is an important first step to establish whether PFS is a viable opportunity that will provide benefits to the community.
However, while these innovative strategies are important, they are not a substitute for local, state and federal support for large-scale expansion of early education.
The pilot is funded through FY16 Preschool Development Grant program, which is jointly administered with the Health and Human Services Dept.
President Obama FY 2017 budget proposal includes expanding high-quality early learning programs through two key programs:
- $350 million for Preschool Development Grants, an increase of $100 million over the FY 2016 funding level, to help states lay the foundation for universal public preschool.
- $75 billion over 10 years for the Preschool for All proposal to provide universal high-quality preschool programs for all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.High-quality preschool is a critical means of expanding educational equity and opportunity by giving every child a strong start.
- Studies show that attending high-quality early education can result in children building a solid foundation for achieving the academic, health and social outcomes.
Research has shown that taxpayers receive a high average return on investments in high-quality early childhood education relative to a number of other interventions—particularly those made later in a child’s development—with savings in areas like improved educational outcomes, increased labor productivity and a reduction in crime.