In 2019, 46 states and territories implemented the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Preschool Development Grant, Birth Through Five (PDG B–5) initiative in order to encourage partnerships to improve coordination, program quality, and delivery of services to young children.
The PDG B-5 initiative supports states to create plans to facilitate collaboration and coordination among existing early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs that are designed to prepare low-income and disadvantaged children to enter kindergarten to address a critical challenge in what has come to be known as the “patchwork” system of ECCE in the United States. The initiative promotes five broadly defined activities related to services for children birth to age 5 and their families:
- A birth-to-5 needs assessment
- A birth-to-5 strategic plan
- Maximizing parent knowledge and choice
- Sharing best practices
- Improving overall quality
AIR led three projects related to Illinois’ PDG B-5 2019 grant:
- Conducting a needs assessment: The needs assessment determined the availability and quality of existing ECCE programs in Illinois.
- Developing a strategic plan: Working with GOECD, proposed a strategic plan and next steps for Illinois to support collaboration and coordination among ECCE programs, and addresses challenges to increasing the number of children with access to high-quality services.
- Sharing best practices on governance: This included conducting research and developing recommendations on ECCE governance to inform the strategic plan about the authority and accountability of ECCE programs for improved coordination.