(JEFFERSON CITY, MO) – Missouri families with children age birth to 5 who participate in early learning programs in the state will benefit from a $6.5 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) received word of the award Thursday.
The grant will be used to fund the Stronger Together Missouri project, which aims to implement a comprehensive, statewide, birth-to-kindergarten-entry needs assessment and to update the state’s Early Childhood Strategic Plan to enhance long-term sustainability in early childhood services.
“We are proud and excited about the partnership among the Governor’s Office, the Missouri Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education, Health and Senior Services, Mental Health and Social Services, the Missouri Head Start State Collaboration Office, and the Missouri Foundation for Health that brought this grant to reality,” said Governor Mike Parson. “The grant will allow Missouri to offer even stronger services to our youngest students and their families.”
Information gathered from the needs assessment will be combined with information from the statewide Quality Assurance Report initiative to identify areas in need of intervention to maximize parental choice and knowledge of early learning programs, share best practices, and improve the quality of Early Childhood Care and Education system.
“Collaboration among state partners is key to effectively serving our students and families,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven. “Access to high quality early learning opportunities will help prepare every student for success in school and in life.”
Missouri will begin to implement the grant early this year. The grant is effective for one year.