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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #11-101
December 16, 2011
Contact: Paul Hefner
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

California Wins Federal "Race to the Top" Early Learning Challenge Grant

SACRAMENTO—Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that California has been awarded a $52.6 million federal Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge Grant [http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/12/20111216a.html] External link opens in new window or tab..

"Local education leaders have developed solid proposals for improving early childhood education, which have now been recognized by the Obama administration," said Governor Brown.

"This grant will help more California children get good care and a good start at learning, which we know is key to their long-term success, at school and beyond," Torlakson said. "I'm proud of the teamwork that led to this win for California, and I'm grateful to President Obama for recognizing the potential of regional partnerships to improve child care programs across our state."

California was among 35 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, to submit an application for the Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge, a $500 million state-level competitive grant program to improve early learning and development.

The California grant will primarily fund local Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) being developed by Regional Leadership Consortia—voluntary groups of local First 5 commissions, county offices of education, and county governments. These Consortia will work with licensed child care programs, school districts, and child care partners.

The local QRIS are meant to make information about the quality of child-care programs readily available to parents and policymakers though simple, independent, and publicly available ratings. Using the QRIS, each participating child development agency would receive a rating score based on common standards regarding the learning environment, teacher effectiveness, and parent engagement.

Over time, the QRIS are expected to help improve the availability of high-quality, linguistically and culturally appropriate service to children with high needs. These include infants and toddlers, dual-language learners, and children with disabilities and other special needs.

"In these challenging fiscal times, winning this grant will help parents find and use the best programs possible—without additional costs to parents or taxpayers," Torlakson said.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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