BATON ROUGE (AP) - The Louisiana Department of Education won a three-year grant totaling more than $33 million to make preschool more available to low-income children from birth to age 3.
The federal Preschool Development Grant will create at least 600 new openings to let such children attend preschool without any payment from their parents, according to a news release Monday. Programs that provide infant care, meet teacher certification requirements and minimum quality rating scores will get priority.
The grant also will double the number of pilot program networks to increase access to high-quality early childhood education and will pay for community-based helpers to recruit and support families to apply for child care help.
In addition, the grant will be used to establish and strengthen regional networks of people who provide approved child care services in their homes.
"Louisiana was one of just 20 states across the country to win this Preschool Development Grant. That was not by chance," said Tony Davis, member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Earlier grants in the program have brought Louisiana $40.3 million since 2014.
"This new grant award marks an important step toward solving the state's crisis of access, particularly among children birth to age 3, who are most in need," State Superintendent John White said.
"However," he added, "significant barriers remain for thousands of working families in need of quality care and education for their children. We must continue to work together to find solutions and close this gap."