Policy Resource

Kentucky Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Feb 9, 2016

Family Engagement and Quality Improvement resource information on state policies and initiatives that impact infants, toddlers and their families

In December, 2013, Kentucky became one of six states to receive a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant. Through this grant, the state is directing substantial resources to support three early childhood policy priorities: High-Quality Early Learning Environments, Family Support, and Access to Data.

In order to build High-Quality Learning Environments, Kentucky will redesign and shift its current quality rating and improvement system (known as STARS) to include all public preschool, Head Start, and early learning and development programs. The state will require (by 2016) that all providers who receive a license participate in the redesigned STARS system. Additionally, all programs will be required to display their rating in a prominent location within their facility, giving every parent an objective way to assess the relative quality of a program. Kentucky also has plans to cultivate the workforce for learning environments. The state already expanded the personnel pipeline by embedding requirements for state and nationally recognized credentials that infant-toddler professionals acquire (CDA and Certificate of Eligibility for KY Child Care Credential) into public high school curriculum. The courses will now be integrated into the new state career lattice so that students who take them will not only be prepared to work in the field after graduation, but also will be eligible for professional development supports including scholarships.

To create a foundation for family support, Kentucky plans to integrate the Center for the Study of Social Policys Strengthening Families strength-based framework of protective factors into their services and systems. All of the public and private partners in the states RTT-ELC grant will integrate the framework into services they currently provide to low-income families. Kentucky has also put in place initiatives to help parents understand their childrens development and how they can support it. The state plans to expand the Toyota bornlearning® Academies”school-based workshops for low-income families with young children that offer parents strategies they can use at home to maximize their childs early learning and development”to reach 150 or more elementary schools over the grant period. Existing Family Resource & Youth Services Centers (FRYSC) will be used to offer the workshops with the intention of fully incorporating the bornlearning® program into FRYSC core components so that it will be sustained after the RTT-ELC grant ends. Learn more about Kentucky and how other states are using RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREEs paper, Meeting the Challenge: How the Newest Early Learning Challenge Grantees Can Meet the Needs of Infants and Toddlers found at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/state-community-policy/elc-grantees-2014.pdf

Updated February 2016

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