Preschool Development Grant
In September 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care released a Funding Opportunity Announcement for the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) Initial Grant. Wyoming was included as one of ten states and territories eligible for this grant program. The John P. Ellbogen Foundation funded a grant writer to support the state's effort in application development and submission. In September and October 2019, Wyoming Kids First and the Wyoming Governor's Office formed an Application Team to help develop Wyoming's application. The Application Team met for an introductory video conference on 9/10/19 and for two in-person meetings: on 9/16/19 in Cheyenne, and on 10/3/19 and 10/4/19 in Casper. In addition, broader stakeholder input was gathered through an online survey, which received 98 responses, and an in-person stakeholder meeting on 10/3/19 in Casper.
In late December of 2019, Wyoming received word that they were awarded a Preschool Development Grant. The Governor's Early Childhood State Advisory Council worked closely with the grant manager, Align, to ensure grant activities were carried out as identified in the application and as directed by the federal government. The total federal dollars awarded were $2,098,776. Work began on December 31 to address five activities:
Conducting a statewide B-5 needs assessment;
Developing a statewide B-5 strategic plan;
Maximizing parental knowledge and choice;
Sharing best practices among early childhood care and education (ECE) providers; and
Improving overall program quality.
Wyoming (WY) proposed to build on existing initiatives and programs to develop statewide capacity to provide Wyoming's leaders, programs, and parents with the knowledge and tools to provide high-quality early childhood care and education (ECE) experiences for all of WY's youngest learners that prepare them for kindergarten, especially those from vulnerable and underserved populations.
2020 Preschool Development Grant B-5 Accomplishments
Comprehensive Early Childhood Statewide Needs Assessment (NA)
Wyoming conducted a statewide NA between January and August 2020 to identify strengths and gaps in the state’s B-5 system. The NA was completed in August 2020 and accepted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September 2020. WY worked with a NA contractor to collect additional data pertaining to child and family access to programs and services, the quality of those services, and the level of coordination in the EC system.
The results of the Needs Assessment directly informed Strategic Planning activities. Three strategic planning Work Groups were formed to review key results from the Needs Assessment and develop plans for addressing identified needs and opportunities organized by topic area: Family Empowerment, Knowledge, and Choice; ECE Quality and Workforce; and Governance and Systems. The Strategic Plan was submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in December 2020 and is pending approval.
Parental Knowledge / Choice
Wyoming is committed to ensuring that the state is listening to families and providing them with better information. Through the family surveys and listening sessions, WY learned areas where gaps of information existed (i.e. child care subsidies, transitions, access) and incorporated responsive strategies into current work (WY Quality Counts) to increase family and parent knowledge.
Sharing Best Practices
To share best practices among ECE providers, Wyoming extended the work of the WY Early Childhood Outreach Network (WyECON) to create an online resource portal of vetted practices, and to share these practices through blog posts, podcasts, and regional trainings for ECE providers. WY built on the work of WyECON and the WY Early Childhood Professional Learning Collaborative to offer trainings for ECE providers throughout the state.
Improving Program Quality
Leadership from WyECON and WY Kids First saw the PDG B-5 initial grant as a critical opportunity for WY to boldly state that effective decision-making about successful child outcomes relies on a well-communicated path to quality. The state articulated that path to quality by developing the Coherent Path to Quality (CP2Q) resource – with the input of more than 30 early childhood caregivers and educators who participated in a facilitated Quality Learning Network with Leading for Children. The CP2Q asserts that to achieve high quality results, every level of the EC system must define the path to quality using three dimensions: relationships and interactions, emotional and physical environment, and learning experiences.