The Early Learning Challenge Fund is one step closer to becoming law. The bill that contains the proposal was passed by the House of Representatives this afternoon. The vote was 253-171.
Now it's the Senate's turn. The Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee is expected to deliberate on the bill, which is largely designed to overhaul the student loan program, at the end of this month.
Today's vote is welcome news to those involved in early education programs -- and the hope is that the fund will eventually make a real difference to families with young children. We've been following the prospects for this fund from its conception. In short, the federal government would distribute $1 billion each year over eight years in the form of grants to states. No state would get the money automatically. Instead, states would have to show that they are building high-quality systems for disadvantaged children, birth to 5. For example, states would be expected to build rating systems to help parents determine which child care centers and preschool programs meet high levels of quality. And they would need to align their early childhood standards with those of the K-12 public schools.
The bill spells out many details about these grants and how states would qualify for the money. We've written several posts that can help you learn more: