On May 25, 2023, Alabama lawmakers gave final approval to the largest ever year-over-year increase in state funding for early care and education. Through bipartisan consensus, legislators approved a combined $42 million increase in investments in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program and the Alabama Quality Stars child care rating and improvement program. The funding was originally recommended by Governor Ivey and supported by the Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s Pre-K Task Force. The new investments break down as follows:
- an $8 million increase to expand Alabama First Class Pre-K;
- $4 million in one-time funding for First Class Pre-K focused on startup funding in high-needs areas; and
- a $30 million increase in state funding for Alabama Quality Stars Quality Rating and Improvement System for Child Care. The additional investments in Alabama Quality Stars will allow more child care programs across the state to receive coaching and funding incentives to improve the quality of teaching and classroom settings.
On June 20, 2023, Governor Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) announced the resulting expansion of the Alabama First Class Pre-K program. The department will initially add 69 classrooms in 30 counties this fall, providing seats for more than 1,200 children. The new classrooms in this round were focused on improving academic performance in the state’s “turnaround schools,” and reducing existing pre-k waitlists.
Earlier this year, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) ranked Alabama First Class Pre-K as the nation’s highest quality state pre-kindergarten program for the 17th consecutive year. Alabama leads the nation, while expanding program access to Alabama’s 4-year-olds.
“Through the leadership of Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, Alabama’s state pre-k program continues to move toward the goal of serving 70% of Alabama’s population of 4-year-old children,” said Dr. Jan Hume, Acting Secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. “Since the program’s creation in 2000, we continue to prioritize age appropriate, impactful early learning and development experiences for children and their families.”
Click here for the list of new First Class Pre-K classrooms.