Early Learning Challenge Grant Fifth Year Extension Update


As you may know, the federally funded Early Learning Challenge grant is well into its fourth year of implementing systems-building initiatives throughout the state, designed to improve school readiness for children with high needs. If you’re interested in what’s been accomplished so far, check out the Annual Performance Reports and data highlights from the first three years of implementation here. Because this is a systems-building grant, keep in mind that the outcomes reflect the overall work of our early childhood systems as a whole, not only the activities that have been funded by the Early Learning Challenge (ELC) grant. We all have a lot to be proud of!

Some examples:

  • Substantial increases of the number of regulated programs in STARS
  • Major increases in the number of programs in higher levels of STARS
  • Significant increases in the number of individuals reporting advanced credentials and degrees in early childhood in the Bright Future’s Information System
  • A sizable increase in the number of children screened
  • A jump in the number of qualified preK programs as well as the number of children in preK

You may already be aware that we have requested a one-year extension from our federal program officers for those projects that will not be finished as of December 2017. If approved, this would mean that our projects would have until December 2018 to complete deliverables. That application was submitted June 8, 2017, and we are awaiting word from our federal partners.

In addition, thanks to savings in grant management and a data systems project coming in under budget, we have a strategic opportunity to re-allocate a small amount of funds that otherwise would be unspent at the conclusion of the grant. The Implementation Team for the grant has taken advantage of this opportunity to think more deeply about long- term effectiveness and sustainability, and how to best position our work to strengthen the system overall in order to improve school readiness for children with high needs. After an eighteen-month process of review, analysis, and discussion, five grant initiatives rose to the top for re-allocating funding in Year five.

Help Me Grow (HMG) for $486,000:

  • Continued support for the HMG Centralized Access Point staffed by child development specialists at Vermont 2-1-1
  • Continued HMG Family and Community Outreach through Building Bright Futures’ Regional Council public outreach and networking activities
  • Continued HMG provider outreach which includes training of child care providers and physicians in developmental monitoring and screening, referral and linkage through HMG, and the use of our new Universal Developmental Screening (UDS) registry – a statewide screening data collection and communication system
  • Continued support for HMG VT State Coordinating Office activities that include ongoing data collection and analysis and long-term system sustainability. The HMG VT State Coordinating office leverages and augments RTT-ELC direct funds with additional state, federal, and private funds from other entities and collaborating partners for required statewide expansion

Building Bright Futures (BBF) for $218,000

  • Continue targeted and strategic implementation of Act 104, which designates BBF’s powers and duties and its scope of work, aligned with Vermont’s Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP)
  • Through the Early Childhood Action Plan and regional action plans, guide the work of Vermont’s early childhood system to ensure that the education, health, and the early care systems are fully integrated and are publicly accountable to support the well-being of Vermont’s children ages birth-eight years old
  • Leverage use of Vermont Insights, BBF’s public facing data portal to inform community based and statewide early childhood efforts
  • Support successful implementation of ELC-RTT funded efforts including Help Me Grow (Project 12), Early Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (Project 13), and Promise Communities (Project 24)
  • Continue to implement sustainability plans

TEACH scholarship program for $317,000

  • Maintain scholarship aid for 40 child care practitioners working in private settings to earn AA degrees and for 11 to earn licensure

Early Childhood Higher Education Consortium for $67,500

  • Bring together leaders of institutions of higher education which offer early childhood programs to better understand the educational needs of the early childhood workforce and to create solutions together
  • Continue facilitation of consortium by Cheryl Mitchell
  • Support a 2018 Early Childhood Summer Institute at Castleton University, which offers ten to twelve courses in early childhood, aligned with requirements for AA, BA and Master’s degrees.

Data Governance Project for $95,000

  • Continue to establish data management and data sharing processes with participating agencies of education and human services to inform policies and practices that support better outcomes for children and families.
  • Enable us to track longitudinal outcomes that cross agencies, programs, and ages
  • Complete the design and piloting of early childhood data governance program

What’s next?

I submitted Part II of the application on Monday, July 31st, and will keep you posted when we hear from our federal program officers.

Thanks so much for your support of early childhood, and please feel free to be in touch with me if you would like more information.

Julie Cadwallader Staub, MSW
Grant Director, Vermont’s Early Learning Challenge 

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