Early Childhood Education Grant Program and Funding Policies Fiscal Year

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1 Early Childhood Education Grant Program and Funding Policies Fiscal Year Office of Early Learning and School Readiness Program Purpose The purpose of the Early Childhood Education Grant is to maximize a child s early educational experiences before kindergarten and provide high-quality early learning services to eligible preschoolaged children through full- and part-day programs. Preschool programs funded through this state grant must be comprehensive and designed to meet the needs of three- and four-year-old children. Grant funds must advance a high-quality educational program for preschool and promote academic achievement using developmentally appropriate practices. Source of Funds State General Revenue Per Child: $4,000 Provider Eligibility For the fiscal year, only those programs already in existence, licensed and Step Up To Quality rated, if applicable, are eligible to apply for early childhood education funding. Existing programs may not add a new site that would require a new license issued by the Ohio Department of Education. Eligible programs must be located within the boundaries of a targeted school district and be one of the following as of Sept. 1, 2015: An existing early childhood education entitlement grantee licensed by the Ohio Department of Education in accordance with Chapter 3301 of the Ohio Revised Code; An entity operating a child care program licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that has at least a 3-star rating through Step Up To Quality, Ohio s tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System; An Ohio Department of Education licensed preschool, chartered nonpublic school or community school, in accordance with Ohio law 1, that meets the original requirements of the early childhood education program (outlined below) by Sept. 1, Family/Child Eligibility These funds are to provide preschool services to economically disadvantage three- and four-year-old children whose family income falls below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Programs are required to demonstrate that children served are eligible to participate by obtaining documentation of age of the child and family income. Children s Age Children must be three or four years of age and not eligible for kindergarten. (One exception: Children with special needs who are kindergarten age may attend an early childhood education program if the child s Individualized Education Program requires it.); 1 Chapter 3301 of the Ohio Revised Code PAGE 1 Early Childhood Education Grant Program and Funding Policies August 2015

2 Verification of age must be kept on file by the grantee. A birth certificate is needed for age verification. The grantee may keep a copy of the actual documentation or have a staff member sign and certify that appropriate documentation was provided at the time of registration. Family Income Gross income that includes gross earned and gross unearned income shall be used for the purpose of determining income eligibility of families (see below for further clarification); Children from families whose income is at 100 percent of the federal poverty level (see below) or below attend tuition free; Children from families whose income is between 101 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level attend on a prorated tuition basis (see information about sliding fee scales below); Once a program has enrolled the number of children for which the grant was funded (funded number), children from families whose income is above 200 percent of the federal poverty level may be enrolled on a tuition basis, if there is room in the classroom/childcare; All children included in the funded number must be from families who earn no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level with the exception of children with disabilities. Children with Individualized Education Programs attend the program at no cost to the family (regardless of family income level). It is not necessary for the families of children with disabilities to provide income information; Verification of income must be kept on file by the grantee. A 1040 annual tax report, two consecutive weeks of paystubs, a letter from an employer or other type of income verification is needed to document income eligibility. The grantee may keep a copy of the actual documentation or have a staff member sign and certify that appropriate documentation was provided at the time of registration. Program Enrollment This funding is based on enrollment. It is expected that existing programs be fully enrolled by Sept. 1 annually. Newly funded programs must be fully enrolled by Oct. 1 annually. Full enrollment is defined as having the specified number of children being served based on the allocation received. It is recommended that a waiting list is established to facilitate this requirement. If a child vacates a slot, the slot must be replaced within 30 days with the same age and income verification Program Hours of Operation and Waiver Programs operating under academic grant are required to offer services for a minimum of 12.5 hours per week or 455 hours per year. Programs may determine the program schedule (ex. morning or afternoon, full-day or part-day) as long as the program offers services for 12.5 hours per week. If the 12.5 hours per week schedule creates a hardship and the program is working in collaboration with a preschool special education program, the program may submit a waiver to the department requesting an alternate schedule. If the department approves a waiver for an alternate schedule that provides services for less time than the standard early childhood education schedule, the department may reduce the programs annual allocation proportionately. Under no circumstances shall an annual allocation be increased because of the approval of an alternate schedule. PAGE 2 Early Childhood Education Program and Funding Policies August 2015

3 Days/Hours Waiver Process Programs requesting waivers will submit waiver document to the Ohio Department of Education s Office of Early Learning and School Readiness for approval. Programs will be notified of approval within 30 days of a request. Attendance Programs must have policies in place to determine when a child shall be excluded from participation due to non-attendance. These policies must be in writing and given to the families at the time of enrollment. Programs must also document all decisions regarding withdrawals or disenrollment of children. Ohio Department of Education, Office of Early Learning and School Readiness Funding Recipients Public School Districts The Ohio Department of Education s Office of Early Learning and School Readiness is responsible for licensing all public preschool programs operated by school districts. Programs that receive early childhood education and/or preschool special education state funding through the department of education are mandated to participate in Step Up To Quality and are required to achieve a rating of 3, 4 or 5 to maintain state funding. These programs received early childhood education funding prior to the implementation of the Step Up To Quality rating and improvement system. The department is using a phase-in approach to rate all preschool programs receiving early childhood education entitlement and/or expansion funding using the Step Up To Quality rating system. All programs will be phased in to Step Up To Quality over the next several years. At the time of funding, if no rating exists, the district must adhere to the legislative requirements as follows: Meet teacher qualification requirements; Obtain 20 hours of professional development every two years; Align curriculum to the early learning and development standards; Meet child assessment requirements; document and report child progress. Fiscal Monitoring All programs receive $4,000 per child, and funds are appropriated annually. Budgets are submitted and approved via the Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Plan (CCIP), and ongoing expenses are monitored by the Office of Grants Management. Please review Budget Guidance for additional information. Reporting Public school districts report teacher qualifications, student enrollment, disability category, attendance and demographic data via the Education Management Information System (EMIS). Districts are required to report annually on the first day of December or the business day closest to that date, for at least the number slots allocated; Each month, programs are responsible for submitting attendance data of early childhood education children to the department. At any time, the department may inquire about unfilled slots through survey monkey. Chartered Nonpublic Schools The Ohio Department of Education s Office of Early Learning and School Readiness also is responsible for licensing all chartered nonpublic preschool programs. Beginning in FY14, these programs became PAGE 3 Early Childhood Education Program and Funding Policies August 2015

4 eligible to receive early childhood education expansion funding and therefore also are required to be highly rated with a 3-, 4-, or 5-star rating in the Step Up To Quality scale. At the time of funding, if no rating exists, the nonpublic school must adhere to the legislative requirements as follows: Meet teacher qualification requirements; Obtain 20 hours of professional development every two years; Align curriculum to the early learning and development standards; Meet child assessment requirements; document and report child progress. For programs receiving early childhood education funding and not yet Step Up To Quality rated, the department will provide technical assistance and guidance to the program prior to requiring Step Up To Quality participation. During the licensing visit, the program specialist will verify the legislative requirements and provide technical assistance regarding the process for applying for the program s Step Up To Quality rating. The technical assistance may include, but is not limited to, electronic communications, telephone conferencing, additional on-site verification visits and professional development offerings. Technical assistance also may be provided by the state support team regional office. The chartered nonpublic school Step Up To Quality rating schedule will be folded into the public school district phase-in approach as outlined above. Fiscal Monitoring All programs receive $4,000 per child, and funds are appropriated annually. Budgets are submitted and approved via the CCIP, and ongoing expenses are monitored by the Office of Grants Management. Please review Budget Guidance for additional information. Reporting Chartered nonpublic schools report teacher qualifications, student enrollment, disability category, attendance and demographic data via Enterprise Application Service (EAS). Chartered nonpublic schools are required to report monthly attendance. New children entering the program are entered into the EAS system monthly. Child Care Centers The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is responsible for licensing all the for-profit centers across the state. Prior to FY14, participation in Step Up To Quality was voluntary. Now, any center receiving state and/or federal funds is required to participate in Step Up To Quality. As of FY14, programs licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that receive early childhood education funds must maintain a rating of 3 or higher at the time of application and throughout the grant cycle. Oversight of the early childhood education funding is the responsibility of the Ohio Department of Education s Office of Early Learning and School Readiness. Fiscal Monitoring All programs receive $4,000 per child, and funds are appropriated annually. Budgets are submitted and approved via the CCIP, and ongoing expenses are monitored by the Office of Grants Management. Please review Budget Guidance for additional information. Reporting Child care centers report teacher qualifications, student enrollment, disability category, attendance and demographic data via Enterprise Application Service (EAS). Centers are PAGE 4 Early Childhood Education Program and Funding Policies August 2015

5 required to report monthly attendance. New children entering the program are entered into the EAS system monthly. Step Up To Quality Rating Process SUTQ Program Change in Rating For any program receiving early childhood education funding that falls below the 3-star rating, an Ohio Department of Education specialist will conduct a desk review or a verification visit to ensure that the program is meeting legislative requirements. If the program does not meet the legislative requirements, the program will be required to complete a corrective action plan and submit it to the department for approval. The corrective action plan will include a scheduled plan for monitoring by the department of education, any required documentation, and the name and signature of the person responsible for implementing the corrective action plan. All payments will be suspended until the program completes all steps of the corrective action plan process. Desk Review Verification Programs will be required to submit all requested documentation to the department in order for a specialist to confirm or deny the non-compliance issue(s). After the specialist reviews the documents, that specialist will provide a written response to the program to either state there are no concerns or that a corrective action plan is needed. If a corrective action plan is needed, the specialist will provide the corrective action plan form to the program. The program will have 10 business days to respond to the department with a corrective action plan. Upon receipt of the corrective action plan, the specialist will respond to the program within seven business days to approve or deny the corrective action plan. If the plan is approved, the specialist will monitor the implementation of the plan (see Corrective Action Plan Monitoring). If the plan is denied, the specialist and the program will work together to develop a corrective action plan that will address all areas of non-compliance. On-site Verification Visit The specialist will contact the program and schedule a time to go on-site and review all necessary documents, observe classrooms, check attendance, determine child-staff ratios, and verify implementation of curriculum and assessment requirements. After completion of the visit the specialist will discuss program findings, obtain signature from the administrator, and provide the corrective action form to the program, when applicable. If a corrective action plan is needed, the program has 10 business days to submit the CAP to specialist. The specialist has 7 business days to approve or deny the CAP. If the CAP is approved the ODE specialist will monitor the implementation of the plan (see Corrective Action Plan Monitoring). If the CAP is denied the specialist and the program will work together to develop a corrective action plan that addresses all areas of non-compliance. Corrective Action Plan Monitoring If a program was required to develop a CAP the specialist who approved the CAP is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CAP until all requirements of the plan are met. This will include periodic on-site visits, desk reviews and progress checks. If a corrective action plan is not corrected by the stated deadline, the program may have to return its funding. PAGE 5 Early Childhood Education Program and Funding Policies August 2015

6 Reporting Deadlines Programs are responsible for meeting the required deadlines. If reporting deadlines are not met, payments may be suspended until the required documents are received. Attendance sheets are due on the 30 th day of every month. A template will be provided with information regarding whom and where to submit; Newly enrolled children need to be entered in EAS system by the 30 th day of the month in which they were enrolled; Fall/Spring English language arts assessment should be entered by the deadline provided by the Ohio Department of Education; Quarterly draw-downs equaling at least 10 percent of total allocation; Quarterly Expenditure Reports. Quarterly Reports Quarterly reports must describe the expenditures and how the expenditures relate to the program services. All expenditure documentation is due 20 days after the expense occurs. Below is a chart to show when a project cash request is required to be submitted. All grant funds must be spent or obligated and all activities must be completed prior to the grant ending date. Period Ending PCR Due Date 9/30/15 10/20/15 12/31/15 1/20/16 3/31/16 4/20/16 6/30/16 7/20/16 Final Expenditure Report no outside obligations 9/30/16 Program services and activities to be included with the expenditure report may include: Outreach, recruitment and retention activities; Successes and challenges; Program outcomes, goals and objectives; Documentation that supports the implementation of the Step Up To Quality process as well as program improvement. PAGE 6 Early Childhood Education Program and Funding Policies August 2015

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