Child care providers interested in adding an Alabama First Class Pre-K classroom to their center next fall are encouraged to participate in a webinar outlining improvements to the state program and its application process. The webinar will also detail opportunities for technical assistance and support being offered by advocacy organizations throughout the application period.
The Alabama School Readiness Alliance and the Alabama Association for Early Care and Education are hosting the informational webinar on Thursday, January 23, from 1:00-2:30 PM. On the webinar, Dr. Barbara Cooper, director of the will walk interested applicants through the state’s application process. She will also address updates to the First Class Pre-K program, including changes to how classrooms are funded and new program guidelines. Organizations interested in participating must register at https://www.alabamaschoolreadiness.org/childcare/.
“The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education has listened to feedback from child care providers and responded by making important changes to the First Class Pre-K program,” said Allison Muhlendorf, executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. ASRA is a nonprofit coalition advocating for the expansion of high-quality pre-k statewide. “Adding a First Class Pre-K classroom can be a much-needed source of funding to help child care programs improve the quality of early education for children in their care. We hope all interested providers will join us.”
The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education allocates funding for the First Class Pre-K program through a competitive application process. Public and private schools, child care centers, faith-based centers, Head Start programs, nonprofits, and other community-based preschool providers are all eligible to apply.Potential providers can apply for three different levels of funding: anexcellence classroom (up to $50,400), tiered funding (ranges from $86,904 to $100,008), and a new classroom (up to $120,000).
Classroom applications for the 2020-2021 school year are available through March 13, 2020. New classrooms will be announced later this Spring. The number of new classrooms awarded depends on the amount of increased funding appropriated for the program by the Alabama Legislature in this year’s legislative session.
The Alabama School Readiness Alliance is also working with its partner organization, the Alabama Partnership for Children, to offer technical assistance for child care programs throughout the First Class Pre-K application period. These statewide nonprofits will connect interested child care providers with local organizations and existing classroom providers for mentoring, coaching, and support. The groups will also advise potential providers on strategies to identify matching funds, classroom space, and other needs. Child care directors and others can request support by filling out this form:https://www.alabamaschoolreadiness.org/contact/.
“The First Class Pre-K program has grown into a supportive community of providers who are working with their colleagues to ensure quality and growth,” said Muhlendorf. “This year, with the changes being made to the application process, we thought it was important to help connect as many potential providers with mentors as possible to ease the process.”