S.2452 - Strong Start for America's Children Act

An original bill to support early learning. view all titles (2)

All Bill Titles

  • Short: Strong Start for America's Children Act as introduced.
  • Official: An original bill to support early learning. as introduced.

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Introduced
 
Senate
Passes
 
House
Passes
 
President
Signs
 

 
06/10/14
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Official Summary

Strong Start for America's Children Act - Title I: Prekindergarten Access - Subtitle A: Access to Voluntary Prekindergarten for Low- and Moderate-Income Families - (Sec. 113) Directs the Secretary of Education (Secretary) to allot matching grants to states and, through them, subgrants

Official Summary

Strong Start for America's Children Act - Title I: Prekindergarten Access - Subtitle A: Access to Voluntary Prekindergarten for Low- and Moderate-Income Families -

(Sec. 113)

Directs the Secretary of Education (Secretary) to allot matching grants to states and, through them, subgrants to local educational agencies (LEAs), childhood education program providers, or consortia of those entities to implement high-quality prekindergarten programs for children from low-income families. Reserves specified portions of this subtitle's funding for:
(1) Indian tribes and tribal organizations,
(2) outlying areas,
(3) LEAs that serve children in families who are engaged in migrant or seasonal labor, and
(4) national activities. Allots grants to states based on each state's proportion of children who are age four and who are from families with incomes at or below 200% of the poverty level. Allows states that provide such four-year-old children with access to universally available, voluntary, high-quality prekindergarten programs to use their grant to provide high-quality prekindergarten programs for children who are age three and who are from families with incomes at or below 200% of the poverty level. Defines \"high-quality prekindergarten programs\" as those that: serve children who are 3 or 4 by the eligibility determination date or have attained the legal age for state-funded prekindergarten; require staff to have high qualifications, which for teachers include specified alternative requirements that all involve possessing a bachelor's degree; maintain a maximum class size of 20 children and a child-to-instructional staff ratio that does not exceed 10 to 1; offer a full-day program; provide developmentally appropriate, evidence-based curricula and learning environments that are aligned with state early learning and development standards; offer teachers salaries comparable to those earned by kindergarten through grade 12 teachers; provide for ongoing monitoring and program evaluation to ensure continuous improvement; offer accessible comprehensive services for children, including specified minimum services; provide high-quality professional development for all staff; meet education performance standards under the Head Start Act; and maintain evidence-based health and safety standards. Conditions grant eligibility on states demonstrating to the Secretary that they:
(1) have or will establish early learning and development standards;
(2) have or will develop the ability to link prekindergarten data with their elementary and secondary school data;
(3) offer kindergarten for eligible children; and
(4) have established or designated, or will establish or designate, a State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care. Requires state grantees to:
(1) ensure that their grant-supported prekindergarten programs conduct criminal history background checks on all employees or applicants for employment who have direct access to children, and
(2) prohibit the employment by such programs of individuals who have direct access to children and have been convicted of a violent felony or any violent or sexual crime against a minor.

(Sec. 117)

Allows states to reserve up to 20% of their grant funds over the first four years of their grant for prekindergarten quality improvement activities, including the provision of:
(1) support for prekindergarten personnel seeking a baccalaureate degree in early childhood education or a closely-related field,
(2) ongoing professional development opportunities for prekindergarten personnel, and
(3) more opportunities for families to learn how best to support their children's development over the first five years of life. Makes matching requirements inapplicable to those reserved funds. Authorizes states to apply to the appropriate Secretary to use up to 15% of their grant for subgrants to high-quality early childhood education and care programs for infants and toddlers whose family income is at or below 200% of the poverty level. Requires the Secretary and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to jointly administer the use of such funds on such terms as they set forth in an interagency agreement. Prohibits states from reserving more than 1% of their grant funds to administer the grant.

(Sec. 118)

Requires state to develop, implement, and make publicly available performance measures and targets for their grant activities. Sets forth what those measures must, at a minimum, track.

(Sec. 119)

Raises the percentage of the grant funds which must be matched over the years a state receives such grant. Allows states to provide matching funds at a reduced rate if such states: offer enrollment in high-quality prekindergarten programs to at least 50% of the children who are age four on the eligibility determination date and are from families with incomes at or below 200% of the poverty level, have a plan for continuing to expand access to such programs to such children, and have a plan to expand access to such programs to children from moderate income families with incomes above 200% of the poverty line.

(Sec. 121)

Require subgrantees that are:
(1) LEAs to enter into strong partnerships with local early childhood education programs, and
(2) not LEAs to enter into strong partnerships with LEAs.

(Sec. 122)

Requires state grantees to submit to the Secretary, the Secretary of HHS, and the State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care an annual report concerning their progress in implementing high-quality prekindergarten programs. Directs the Secretary to submit an annual report to Congress that includes a summary of those state reports.

(Sec. 123)

Prohibits state grantees from requiring any child to participate in any federal, state, local, or private early childhood education program. Limits the use of assessments funded by the grant program.

(Sec. 124)

Directs the Secretary and the Secretary of HHS to develop a process to provide Head Start program services to children who are younger than age four in states or regions that provide four-year-olds whose family income is at or below 200% of the poverty level with sustained access to high-quality prekindergarten programs.

(Sec. 127)

Authorizes appropriations for this subtitle's grant program through FY2023. Subtitle B: Prekindergarten Development Grants -

(Sec. 151)

Directs the Secretary to award competitive matching grants to states, LEAs, or other local government entities to increase their capacity to offer high-quality prekindergarten programs. Requires state recipients to assure the Secretary that they will use their grant to become eligible, within three years of receiving the grant, for this Act's grants for high-quality prekindergarten programs. Allows grantees to award subgrants to LEAs, childhood education program providers, or consortia of those entities to carry out the grant activities. Authorizes appropriations for this subtitle's grant program through FY2024. Title II: Learning Quality Partnerships -

(Sec. 202)

Amends the Head Start Act to direct the Secretary of HHS to make grants to Early Head Start agencies to partner with center-based or family child care providers, particularly those that receive support under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (CCDBGA), to assist those providers in meeting applicable Head Start and Early Head Start program performance standards. Authorizes those partnerships to serve children through age three. Reserves specified portions of this title's funding for:
(1) Indian Head Start programs that serve young children,
(2) migrant and seasonal Head Start programs that serve young children, and
(3) outlying areas. Directs the Secretary of HHS to give Early Head Start program grant priority to Early Head Start agencies that agree to enter into such partnerships with center-based or family child care providers. Requires the Secretary, within one year after this Act's enactment, to conduct a survey and report to Congress on the barriers Early Head Start agencies and child care providers face in entering into early learning quality partnership agreements under this title. Authorizes appropriations for this title's grant program through FY2024. Title III: Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program -

(Sec. 301)

Expresses the sense of the Senate regarding the need for Congress to continue providing resources to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program to support the work of states in helping at-risk families voluntarily receive home visits from nurses and social workers.

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