Educator Excellence

Early Learning Scholarship Implementation Plan

Purpose

Early Learning Scholarships provide income-eligible families funding to support their child’s attendance at a high quality early learning setting of their choice in order to improve children’s success in kindergarten and beyond.

Goal of Plan

• Provide children prior to kindergarten entrance who have high needs with access to high-quality early learning opportunities.

• Build upon lessons learned from previous scholarship pilots.

• Establish infrastructure for growing and sustaining a comprehensive early learning system in Minnesota.

Proposed Distribution Plan

Distribution regionally, reaching all of the Governor’s 13 Economic Development Regions

Determining Factors for Distribution among Regions:

• Percentage of poverty based on kindergarten Free and Reduced-Price Lunch
• Existence of a Priority School in the community
o Priority Schools are Title I schools identified as the five percent most persistently low-performing Title I schools.
• Existence of current state-funded Early Learning Scholarships (totaling 460 scholarships)
o The communities receiving Early Learning Scholarships in fiscal year 2013 were Becker, Blue Earth, Clearwater, Pine, and Nicollet counties; Wayzata school district; the cities of Duluth, Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Willmar.
• Cities of the First Class
o Minneapolis

o St. Paul

o Rochester

o Duluth

Distribution in each region will include:

• A balanced and fair distribution based on poverty indicators for the Metro and Greater Minnesota

o Equaling approximately 4057 total scholarships per biennium, reaching approximately nine percent (9%) of children in need

o Scholarships will be administered in Tiers

§ Tier I: 3-4 star rated Parent Aware will receive $5000

§ Tier II: 1-2 star rated Parent Aware will receive $4000

§ Tier III: Participation Agreement in Parent Aware will receive $3000

Distribution of Scholarships

• Eligible children will be able to access Early Learning Scholarships in two ways:

o Pathway I: Early Learning Scholarships awarded directly to eligible children through regional Early Learning Scholarship Administrator Offices

o Pathway II: Early Learning Scholarships awarded to children through a designated four-star Parent Aware rated early learning setting of their choice

Use of Scholarships

• Scholarship funds can be used to serve additional children, increase a child’s duration in a program, support continuity of services and cover parent co-pays, rates not covered by the Child Care Assistance Program, and other fees, including transportation.
• Programs are encouraged to layer these funds with other existing resources in order to increase access and services for children with the highest needs.

Administration of Scholarships

• Scholarships will be locally administered in each region. The scholarship office in each area will work with families to complete the application and set up scholarship payments with the program.
• A four-star Parent Aware rated program that has scholarship eligible children enrolled in or on a waiting list for the program beginning in July, August or September may notify the commissioner. The commissioner may designate a predetermined number of scholarships for that program and notify the program of that number.
• Scholarships are awarded for a 12-month period. A child may not be awarded more than one scholarship in a 12-month period.
• A child receiving a scholarship must complete developmental screening within 90 days of first attending an eligible program.

Anticipated Administrator Grant Timeline

• Grant opportunity for Regional Administrators and an application process for 4-star Parent Aware rated programs will be posted by mid-July.

• Applications will be reviewed by mid-August.

• Grants to Administrators will be approved and official award notifications letters will be sent by late August 2013.

• Anticipated date for scholarship awards through both Pathways is September 2013.

Download the Early Learning Scholarships Implementation Manual.