After months of work on reforms to their pre-school education programs, thirty-five states have now submitted their proposals ahead of a December federal payout of $500 million to the best programs.

With most of the nation’s states applying, including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, a top U.S. official called the outcome a “strong response."

Applications will be peer-reviewed by early childhood experts.

Awards will range from around $50 million, up to $100 million, depending on a state’s population of children from low-income families and proposed plan.

President Barack Obama introduced the program in 2009, just months after his term began. December’s payouts are part of the $4.35 billion in grants specifically allocated for the program by Congress.

The grant is intended to help improve the quality of early learning programs, including those serving low income children.

Kathleen Sebelius, the Administration’s Health secretary, said low income children “too often start kindergarten already behind their classmates.”

The Administration says early learning improvements will result in crime reduction, stronger national security and greater U.S. competitiveness.

The grant aims for reform at the state levels in five areas

- Successful State Systems,

- Defining High-Quality, Accountable Programs

- Promoting Early Learning and Development Outcomes for Children

- Supporting a Great Early Childhood Education Workforce

- Measuring Outcomes and Progress


Applicants include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.