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RTT-ELC Implementation

California's Race to the Top -- Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Grant Award.
Important Notice: Programs Moved to CDSS

While the California Department of Education continues to operate the California State Preschool Program, the Early Childhood Development Act of 2020 (Senate Bill (SB) 98, Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020) authorized the transfer of many childcare programs from the California Department of Education to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) effective July 1, 2021. The content on this page may include programs that have moved to CDSS. For additional assistance you can either visit the CDSS Child Care Transition web page External link opens in new window or tab. or call 1-833-559-2420 for more information.

California's Approach

California’s RTT-ELC grant implements a unique approach that builds upon a California’s local and statewide successes to create sustainable capacity at the local level to meet the needs of our early learners, with a focus on those with the highest needs. It supports a locally driven quality improvement process that encourages regional assessment, goal setting, and monitoring of progress that leads to tangible change.

California’s application makes the case for a locally driven approach with three key arguments:

  • California has many diverse regions, each with its own politics, economy, and labor market. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work.
  • To be successful, local Consortia must maintain control over their own improvement process.
  • California must be fiscally responsible and should not agree to any spending commitments beyond the grant period.

California's Award

In 2012, California requested $100 million and was awarded $52.6 million, with $84 million originally intended for local county grantees. The lowered award reduced the local funding to approximately 74 percent of the grant amount. In 2013, The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services awarded California an RTT-ELC supplemental grant award of $22.4 million, of which 83 percent went to the local grantees.

The following is California's approved RTT-ELC Federal Application that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education on October 19, 2011:

California's Plan: Local Activities

Local Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

Approximately 77 percent of California’s RTT-ELC grant funding will be spent at the local level to support a voluntary network of 17 Regional Leadership Consortia, each led by an established organization that is already operating or developing a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). As part of this grant, the Consortia will bring together organizations in their region with the same goal of improving the quality of early learning and will expand their current areas of impact by inviting other programs to join their QRIS or reaching out to mentor other communities. With the infusion of RTT-ELC Supplemental funding in 2013, the Consortia will begin to mentor 14 additional mentee counties. Nearly 1.8 million children or 65 percent of children under five in California are potentially impacted by this grant.

By joining California’s Race to the Top effort, the Consortia voluntarily agree to align their local QRIS to a common “Quality Continuum Framework” based on research-based elements and related assessment and improvement tools. They also agree to implement in their QRIS two common tiers using the Framework in addition to locally determined tiers and to set local goals to improve the quality of early learning and development programs. The focus will be in three areas of program quality:

  • Child development and readiness for school;
  • Teachers and teaching; and
  • Program and environment quality.

The end goal that unites these Consortia is to: Ensure that children in California have access to high quality programs so that they thrive in their early learning settings and succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

To implement the RTT-ELC Quality Continuum Framework (DOC), the Consortia have developed the following documents:

California's Plan: State Activities

In addition to an evaluation of the Consortia outcomes, California will use a portion of the RTT-ELC grant funds to make the following one-time investments in state capacity:

  • Home Visiting
    Provide training to local California Home Visiting Program staff on implementing the Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) practices and on the “Three R’s of Early Childhood: Relationships, Resilience, and Readiness”.
  • Screening Tool Distribution
    Distribute “Ages and Stages” screening tools and materials to California Department of Education contracted early learning and development programs and local Consortia.
  • Curricula Development for Higher Education External link opens in new window or tab.
    Facilitate and coordinate unit-based course alignment for three additional child development unit-based courses: Infant/toddler; children with special needs; and program administration.
  • Provide regional support for implementation of the CSEFEL teaching pyramid in local Consortia.
  • California Department of Social Services (DSS), Community Care Licensing Division (CCL) Web site
    Enhance the DSS, CCL Web site to include educational and training materials for consumers and providers.
  • Linking Kindergarten Readiness Information
    Update the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) to accommodate the Kindergarten entry assessment information (DRDP-SR).
  • Program Administration Scale (PAS)/ Business Administration Scale (BAS) Training for Mentors
    Provide “Train-the-trainer” instruction on the PAS and the BAS tools to Director Mentors and Family Child Care Home Mentors to support administrative technical assistance to local Consortia, participating centers, and family child care homes.
  • Electronic Training Materials on Existing Content External link opens in new window or tab.
    Develop online training materials for existing content in order to diminish access barriers.
  • Comprehensive System of Personnel Development for Early Start
    Provide coordinated training for early intervention program staff and support implementation of best practices in developmental and health screening at the local level in collaboration with the local Consortia.

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Questions:   Cecelia Fisher-Dahms | | 916-324-9739
Last Reviewed: Friday, June 18, 2021
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