Alabama gets $33 million to support learning from birth to age 5

Alabama gets $33 million to support learning from birth to age 5

First Class Pre-K in Attalla

A First Class Pre-K classroom in Attalla City Schools. (Alabama School Readiness Alliance)

The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education will receive $33 million in federal funding over three years to support an initiative to promote learning from birth to age 5, Gov. Kay Ivey announced today.

The grant is from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education. It follows a $10.6 million award in December 2018 to support the initiative, called the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five.

Ivey said the program is part of an effort to build on the success of Alabama’s state-funded prekindergarten program, which has won national recognition for its quality for more than a decade.

“As we continue to grow our First Class Pre-K program, we must also expand its learning methods and best practices from birth through third grade,” Ivey said in a press release. “When students are successful in their first few years of school, they are much more likely to be successful throughout their life.”

Ivey said the birth-to-5 program is part of her Strong Start, Strong Finish education initiative, which includes efforts to coordinate education from early childhood to the workforce.

The grant will help more children take part in early education programs, including those from low-income families in rural areas, Early Childhood Education Secretary Jeana Ross said.

“This award will assist us in moving closer to realizing the vision that all Alabama children are healthy and emotionally ready to enter kindergarten, particularly low-income and disadvantaged children, and strong supports are provided to assist families in making informed choices,” Ross said.