By Press Release
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced $300 million in new early childhood funds. ACF issued two Notice of Funding Opportunities (HHS-2022-ACF-OCC-TP-0180 and HHS-2022-ACF-OCC-TP-0001) this week which make $266 million available to states and territories for Preschool Development Grants 0-5. These funds can support early childhood workforce initiatives and other strategies to improve the quality of early childhood programs and service delivery for young children.
ACF also announced $30 million for a new National Early Childhood Workforce Center to support research and technical assistance focused on increasing compensation and benefits and supporting recruitment and retention of an effective and diverse pipeline of early educators across settings.
"Our nation's children, families and economy are stronger when robust early learning opportunities are available in local communities," said ACF Assistant Secretary January Contreras. "Higher compensation and benefits are critical to recruiting and retaining the early childhood workforce that our country needs. That's why we're focused on partnering with our grant recipients to drive toward increased compensation."
In addition, ACF released new program guidance that directs states, territories, tribes and community organizations to increase compensation and benefits for early childhood educators. The guidance addresses three federal funding streams: Child Care and Development Fund, Head Start and Preschool Development Grants 0-5 funds. Collectively, these provide over $20 billion in funds to serve children across the country and identify specific ways these funds can be leveraged to improve compensation, benefits and working conditions.
Specifically, ACF's guidance:
- Provides strategies to support and stabilize staff in Head Start programs by investing in sustained increases in compensation for staff
- Clarifies allowable uses of federal child care funds for supporting early childhood staff compensation
- Offers information to states and territories receiving Preschool Development Grant Birth to Five grants with information on how to use funds to support the early childhood workforce
Earlier this year, ACF released guidance to Head Start grantees encouraging them to use financial incentives to recruit and retain staff. ACF leaders have called on leaders in states, tribes, and territories to use federal resources — including the $40 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds — to implement strategies to improve compensation, benefits, and working conditions for early childhood educators. ACF will continue to provide ongoing policy guidance, clarification, and information to grantees across programs on how they can strengthen and stabilize the early childhood education workforce as well as technical assistance to support their efforts.
"ACF is doing everything in our power to direct resources and support to the early childhood workforce," said ACF Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development Katie Hamm. "In the wake of the pandemic, early childhood programs are having a hard time recruiting and retaining staff. This leads to staff burnout, high turnover, classroom closures, and more work for current early educators, all of which impact access to high-quality services for children and families. We must solve this problem by increasing compensation and benefits for early childhood educators."
ACF's early childhood funding streams promote the early childhood development of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children through grants to states, tribes, territories, and local communities. Services are provided in a variety of settings, including centers, schools, and family child care. As part of HHS, led by Secretary Xavier Becerra, ACF promotes the economic and social well-being of families, children, youth, individuals, and communities that are safe, healthy, and economically secure.
Find out more from the fact sheet on early care and education workforce funding opportunities and guidance.