Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act of 2017
Introduced: January 10, 2017
Co-introducers: Councilmember Trayon White
Summary: To amend the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Act of 1998 to amend the definition of at-risk to include a Pre-k age student receiving education services at a community based organization; and to amend the State Education Office Establishment Act of 2000 to establish a pilot program to provide a facility allowance to high quality child development centers and child development homes that meet certain criteria.
Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:
Thank you Chairman Mendelson.
This morning, along with Councilmember Trayon White, I am introducing the “Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act of 2017.”
When D.C. began its movement toward universal Pre-K, it was in response to a significant body of research that found that investments in early childhood development pays huge dividends in closing and preventing achievement gaps between minority and low-income students and their white and middle-class peers. The District was and is a national leader in the expansion and success of our Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 programs in our public and public charter schools.
What is not often discussed, however, are the thousands of three and four year olds who are receiving Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 educational services from community-based child development centers and homes. Although these organizations, like are local education agencies (LEAs), are being asked teach a quality comprehensive curriculum to ensure kindergarten readiness and meet the District’s early learning and development standards, the District has not provided them with the same financial resources that we provide DCPS and public charter schools.
Did you know that while child development centers are serving Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 students, they are not all receiving the per pupil allocation under the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula? While DCPS and public charter schools receive $12,719 to educate a 3-year old, a gold-level child development centers receives a mere $42 a day for full time care. If you multiply that by the 180 days in a school year, that amounts to $7,560 – which is over $5,000 difference.
They also do not have access to additional allocations such as at-risk funding, which provides an additional $2100 per kid to schools recognizing that children who are homeless, in the foster care system, or qualify for TANF or SNAP are in need of more.
It is no wonder many of our child development centers and homes who serve the subsidy program have trouble staying in the positive in terms of finances while also trying to compete with LEAs in terms of recruiting and retaining high quality teachers and staff.
The “Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act” attempts to infuse more equity into our early learning funding. First, the legislation amends the definition of “at-risk” to include a Pre-k age student receiving education services at a community-based organization. Second, the bill establishes a pilot program within the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to provide a facility allowance to high quality child development centers and child development homes that meet certain criteria. The facility allowance would be administered in a similar manner that the District follows for public charter schools.
Access to high-quality and affordable early care and learning is a growing concern for families in the District of Columbia, especially as the number of residents with young children continues to rise. If the government is able to better support our child development centers and homes with more equitable funding, it is my hope that we are able to increase the number of slots available. Given the vast research about child brain development and the importance of what happens ages 0-3 to setup a child for academic and life-long success, I do believe early care and early learning is in fact an education matter.
I want to yield my remaining time to my co-introducer. And I welcome any and all co-cosponsors.