Primarily, the grants will support children from low- and moderate-income families, federal officials said. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the cash will "continue our efforts to create educational opportunities that prepare our youngest Americans for success in kindergarten, through elementary school and beyond."
The program is administered by the Department of Education with the Department of Health and Human Services. All states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico may all apply by Oct. 14. Grants are to be awarded in December.
Any cash increase will likely be lauded by early childhood advocates and state officials. At Tuesday's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education committee meeting,school leaders and union representatives pleaded with board members to keep a key pre-school funding stream intact. A day earlier, a few BESE members questioned whether a fund holding federal oil and gas revenue would be enough to sustain pre-kindergarten in the long term.