Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) drafted a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last week urging an increased commitment in this year’s budget towards securing a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. The federal Department of Education annually distributes grants of $100 million to qualifying states for early childhood education use. However, the failure of New York State to allocate funds to implement a functional statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System, a Race to the Top grant requirement, left the grant application sitting towards the bottom of 37 submissions.
While the state has developed a rating system, QUALITYstarsNY (QSNY), which had a successful field test run in 2010, a lack of funding has prevented statewide implementation of the system. Current projections indicate that the small upfront costs associated with implementing this system statewide would be significantly offset by future Race to the Top grant funds. Assemblyman Hevesi, along with several of his colleagues, is calling for an initial investment this year followed by a 5 year phase-in funding process for the QSNY system. These initial steps would significantly improve New York State’s standing in the next round of grant reviews later this year.
“Qualifying for this grant would help ensure that young children throughout New York State receive a quality early childhood education.” Hevesi said. “We have a monitoring system already designed that meets the requirements for this grant, now it is simply a matter of committing funds to implement the system statewide. This small initial investment will help the state qualify for much larger federal funding stream. Responsible budgeting means not just focusing on today but looking to how our decisions affect future revenue, it is simply a mistake to not pursue this money for children in New York.”