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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 19, 2015.
Strong Start for America's Children Act of 2015
This bill directs the Department of Education (ED) to allot matching grants to states and, through them, subgrants to local educational agencies, childhood education program providers, or consortia of those entities to implement high-quality prekindergarten programs for children from low-income families.
Grants are allotted to states based on each state's proportion of children who are age four and who are from families with incomes at or below 200% of the poverty level.
"High-quality prekindergarten programs" are those that serve children three or four years of age and meet criteria concerning: class size; learning environments; teacher qualifications, salaries, and professional development; program monitoring; and accessibility to comprehensive health and support services.
States may apply to use up to 15% of their grant for subgrants to high-quality early childhood education and care programs for infants and toddlers whose family income is at or below 200% of the poverty level.
ED and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shall develop a process to: (1) provide Head Start program services to children younger than age four in states or regions that already provide four-year-olds whose family income is at or below 200% of the poverty level with sustained access to high-quality prekindergarten programs, or (2) convert programs to serve infants and toddlers.
ED shall award competitive matching grants to states to increase their capacity to offer high-quality prekindergarten programs. States must provide assurances that they will use their grant to become eligible, within three years of receiving the grant, for this Act's grants for high-quality prekindergarten programs.
The bill amends the Head Start Act to direct HHS to make grants to Early Head Start agencies to partner with center-based or family child care providers, particularly those that receive support under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990, to assist them in meeting program performance standards. Such partnerships may serve children through age three.
The bill reauthorizes the programs providing: (1) preschool grants for special education and related services, and (2) early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
The bill expresses the sense of the Senate concerning the value of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program.