(Jefferson City) -- Missouri has been awarded a competitive $33.5 million grant to improve early learning for kids birth to five years old.
A press release from the Governor’s Office says the three-year funding will be used for a more effective, high-quality early learning system that better prepares Missouri children for success.
“This is great news for our state that will allow our agencies and programs to come together and focus on the same goals to better serve communities across Missouri,” Governor Mike Parson said. “The most important and impactful time of a child’s development is the early years of his or her life. With this funding, we now have the opportunity to leverage existing infrastructure and data systems to strengthen our early childhood offerings, which is crucial to the development of a strong Missouri workforce.”
The release says the state will use the money to provide regional access to early childhood services, boost and streamline worker training, and improve systems to better inform decision-making about early learning.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will lead the interagency effort for the state and work closely with other state agencies and organizations throughout the three-year process, including the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Mental Health, and the Missouri Head Start State Collaboration Office.
“Low-income families have the greatest challenge in finding affordable, quality child care, especially in rural areas,” said Department of Social Services Acting Director Jennifer Tidball. “This grant enables those children to have safe care, an opportunity to learn, and access to essential services so they get the best possible start in life.”
Forty-five other states and territories submitted applications for this funding. About half of the applicants were awarded grants.