Interested in Becoming a First Class Pre-K Provider?
Thank you for your interest in becoming a state-funded First Class Pre-K provider. Alabama’s First Class pre-k is recognized as one of the highest-quality state pre-k programs in the country by the National Institute for Early Education Research. First Class Pre-K currently serves 6% of Alabama’s four-year-olds (about 3,900 children) in a diverse delivery system with 215 sites. Of those sites, 115 are in public schools, 53 are in private schools or private child care centers, 39 are in Head Start centers, and 10 are in other types of settings (college/community/faith/military). Here is some information that you might find helpful as you explore the possibility of applying for a First Class pre-k grant as part of pre-k expansion.
First Class Enrollment and Expansion
While the only eligibility requirements for the four-year-olds attending First Class are meeting the age criteria and being a resident of the state of Alabama, enrollment has remained low due to limited resources. The Alabama School Readiness Alliance is working to dramatically expand access to First Class Pre-K by building pre-k champions inside and outside government and bringing together a business-led Pre-K Task Force to develop state policy recommendations for pre-k expansion (including a ten-year timeline for the expansion of pre-k to all four-year-olds). The first installment of state pre-k expansion could begin as early as the 2013-2014 school year. Click the following link to help ASRA advocate for high-quality pre-k: http://www.alabamaschoolreadiness.org/take-action/?pageID=9.
Overview of Eligible First Class Providers and Grant Structure
First Class Pre-K is administered by the Office of School Readiness in the Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs. First Class program sites are determined through a competitive grant process and can include public schools, private child care centers, Head Start centers, faith-based centers, colleges and universities, community organizations, and military agencies. The state provides grants ranging from $45,000 - $90,000 to First Class grantees to provide pre-k. Grantees must provide a local match of the grant award, which varies by location (the local match helps bring total classroom funding to the full cost of high-quality pre-k classroom, which is $120,000 - $150,000 per year). Matching funds can be private or public, and can include in-kind donations such as facilities.
Operating Guidelines for First Class Providers
A link to the comprehensive operating guidelines (including program quality and learning standards) for First Class providers can be found on the Office of School Readiness Website. In order to successfully apply for future pre-k funding, programs must meet all of the guidelines outlined in this document.
Programs must also meet Department of Human Resources (DHR) Minimum Standards for Day Care Providers, and use one of the curricula approved by First Class.
For more details and contact information, please visit the Office of School Readiness website: http://children.alabama.gov/pages/?pageID=10.