The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is announcing a competitive Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Request for Applications (RFA) Guidance.

This RFA is intended to support providers in preparing to serve and enroll children by September 2021. The RFA is being released in May 2021 to give providers time to conduct outreach to families; recruit, hire and train staff; and plan for implementing the program pending grant approval.

Applicants must submit Letters of Intent to RA-PAPreKCounts@pa.gov by 3 PM on June 10, 2021. Only applicants that submit a complete Letter of Intent by the deadline will be permitted to apply for funding.

INTRODUCTION

Pennsylvania is committed to ensuring that all children begin school ready to learn and succeed in their schooling careers, as lifelong learners, and productive citizens. Research confirms what most parents already know: all children can tap into their innate potential to learn when they receive high-quality instruction that takes into consideration what is known about brain development and how young children learn. Early childhood education is a proven strategy that ensures a child’s readiness for school and school success.

Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts was established by Act 45 of 2007 (and amended in 2008 and 2010). Its purpose is to expand the number of children able to experience a pre-kindergarten program of high quality. The standards for the program ensure a high return on the investment made in preparing young children for school and will help close the achievement gap. Early education through Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts can open the doors of opportunity for every child to do well in school, in the workforce, and in life.

Governor Wolf’s proposed 2021-22 state budget includes an additional $25 million for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts. With this expansion funding, the state will be able to increase the number of children served in high-quality pre-kindergarten.

RFA PROCESS

OCDEL will use a competitive application process to disperse available state expansion funding to select eligible grantees beginning in FY 2021-22.

The ceiling or limit on the potential number of slots that may be awarded to any applicant will depend upon a county’s unmet need percentages and the amount of funding available. Funding is contingent upon approval by the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Grants are funded via state dollars and, therefore, carryover funds are not permitted. All grant dollars identified in this FY 2021-22 application must be encumbered or spent by June 30, 2022.

Pennsylvania continues to be committed to a mixed delivery system. As such, eligible applicants include existing Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts grantees and new applicants from these five eligible entity categories:

a.   School districts;
b.   PDE Licensed nursery schools;
c.    Head Start grantees;
d.   Child care centers and group child care homes designated at Keystone STAR 3 or STAR 4; and
e.   A third-party entity applying for Pennsylvania Pre‐K Counts funding to administer the lead agency responsibilities for entities that are eligible to provide the classroom services under the categories listed above.

 

Eligible applicants must provide assurance that they operate in full compliance with Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Statute, Regulations, and Guidance. Applicants should thoroughly review Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Statute, Regulations, and Guidance prior to submission of a Letter of Intent to apply to ensure an understanding of the program requirements and expectations of compliance if an application is successful. The application review process will include evaluation of the extent to which the applicant demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Statute and Regulations.

Applicants must also have the following in place to complete an application:

  • REQUIRED Letter of Intent (see below);
  • Vendor number (SAP #);
  • Administrative unit number (AUN);
  • Master provider index number (MPI); and
  • Federal ID number or tax ID number.

All information relevant to the application process is available in the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Request for Applications (RFA) Guidance (PDF). Applicants should review all information in that document before submitting the Letter of Intent.

Required Letter of Intent

Because of the need to establish access to eGrants procurement system, applicants must submit a completed Letter of Intent (PDF) to apply for funds. The template posted at PKC How to Apply must be used. The Letter of Intent represents the applicant’s intent to apply for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts funding and includes the legal name of the eligible agency that will apply, the AUN associated with the applying legal entity, preliminary information about requested funding, program model, provider type, and area to be served. Except for the legal entity and AUN, information submitted in the Letter of Intent may be modified in the final eGrants application.

Programs interested in applying must submit a fully completed Letter of Intent (PDF) by 3 pm on June 10, 2021, to RA-PAPreKCounts@pa.gov. Programs that do not submit the Letter of Intent will not be able to access or submit a funding application in the eGrants system. Late submissions will not be accepted. Agencies submitting a fully complete Letter of Intent by the due date will be notified when the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts application is open in eGrants.