The final Fiscal Year 2015 budget maintains important increases in funding for quality and access in early care and education programs. Most significantly, the final budget supports a significant expansion of prekindergarten and an increase in rates for these subsidized slots.
The final budget:
- Maintains funding for an additional 1,020 preschool slots;
- Increases rates for full-day, full-year slots from $8,346 to $8,670 (an increase of 3.88%)
- Maintains funding for School Readiness Quality Enhancements;
- Maintains funding for an additional $15.2 million for Care4Kids, which is designated both for a 3% increase in rates for all providers (child care centers, family child care, and kith and kin) and to accommodate an expected caseload increase in FY 15;
- Provides funding to the Office of Early Childhood for start-up costs and planning grants
- Although not in the budget, there may be an additional $20 million for FY 15 for early childhood education to support “Smart Start,” a new competitive grant program open to any school district that wishes to expand its prekindergarten programs and can demonstrate an unmet need for preschool services.