Woonsocket receives grant for preschool classrooms

Woonsocket receives grant for preschool classrooms

WOONSOCKET - The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Rhode Island a grant to add prekindergarten programs in the seven highest-need communities in Rhode Island: Central Falls, East Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence, West Warwick, and Woonsocket.

With funding from this grant, the R.I. Department of Education will expand the Rhode Island prekindergarten program from the current 17 sites to a total of 60 by the 2019-20 school year. The funds from the grant are aimed at increasing access to preschool for children in high-need communities and will help ensure that the programs are of high quality.

The Rhode Island application for the federal Preschool Expansion Grant sought $19 million in funding over the next four fiscal years.

Working with Rhode Island KIDS COUNT and with support from the Rhode Island Foundation, RIDE submitted the application for a federal Preschool Expansion Grant two months ago.

The prekindergarten program, now in its sixth year, currently supports 17 classrooms in eight Rhode Island communities. The Preschool Expansion Grant will support adding 36 preschool classrooms over the next four fiscal years. State aid for early-childhood education, which is part of the statewide funding formula for aid to education, will support the additional expansion of seven classrooms and will continue to support the expanded preschool program when Rhode Island has expended funds from the federal grant.

Under the Exceed initiative, funded through the federal Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant, RIDE and partner agencies - the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Children, Youth and Families; the Office of Health and Human Services; and Rhode Island KIDS COUNT - are involved in an on-going initiative to increase access to early-learning programs and to improve program quality in public preschools, child-care centers, and family home-care centers. To date, the Exceed initiative has awarded approximately $1.4 million in Quality Improvement Grants from our Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant to 96 family child-care providers, 76 early-learning centers, and 19 public-school preschool classrooms.