Currently, Mississippi has 35 state-funded early learning collaboratives comprised of school districts, Head Start agencies, childcare centers, and private non-profit organizations.
Authored by State Representative Kent McCarty (R), House Bill 817 increases the minimum funding levels for each student enrolled in full-day Early Learning Collaboratives to $2,500 and half-day programs to $1,250.
Current law states that funding should be provided to ELCs on the basis of $2,150 per student in a full-day program and $1,075 per student in a half-day program proposed in the collaborative’s approved application.
During the 2023 Mississippi Legislative session, the Senate adopted an amendment to House Bill 817 which added a repealer. The conference report signed by all conferees recommended the Senate recede from its amendment.
The conference report for H.B. 817 was adopted by the House on Sunday and by the Senate on Wednesday.
Effective with the 2013-2014 school year, the Mississippi State Department of Education (MDE) established a voluntary prekindergarten program, which would be a collaboration among the entities providing prekindergarten programs including Head Start, licensed childcare facilities and licensed public, parochial and private school prekindergarten programs.
Under this program, eligible entities may submit an application for funds to:
- Defray the cost of additional and/or more qualified teaching staff, appropriate educational materials and equipment and to improve the quality of educational experiences offered to four-year-old children in early care and education programs.
- Extend developmentally appropriate education services at such programs currently serving four-year-old children to include practices of high quality instruction.
- Administer, implement, monitor and evaluate the programs.
- Defray the cost of professional development and age-appropriate child assessment.
MDE shows that there are currently 35 state-funded early learning collaboratives comprised of school districts, Head Start agencies, childcare centers, and private non-profit organizations in the state of Mississippi.
According to Mississippi First, the state legislature has increased its commitment to the program five times, raising the funds to $4 million in 2016, then to $6.5 million in 2018, to nearly $6.7 million in 2019, $16 million in 2021, and $24 million in 2022.
“In 2022, in addition to keeping the rate increase, the legislature gave pre-K two additional gifts in the budget—an overall funding amount of $24M, which is an $8M increase, and a coaching line item of $3.25M, which is a little over double last year’s amount,” Mississippi First explained. “These budget amounts will allow the state-funded pre-K program to reach 25% of four-year-olds in Mississippi and provide pre-K teachers the support to ensure quality.”