NH Secures $26.8 million Preschool Development Grant UNH, DHHS, DOE working to boost family engagement from Birth to Age 5
Concord, NH – Governor Chris Sununu today announced that the state has secured a $26.8 million Preschool Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The University of New Hampshire will serve as the lead agency administering the grant, in collaboration with the New Hampshire Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, and an array of stakeholders.
The grant will build capacities for learning and well-being at home, in child care, and community-based settings for children from birth to age 5 (B-5). This would include a Welcome Families website, direct support for New Hampshire's Family Resource Centers, expanded coaching of play-based learning and best practices, development of an Early Childhood Center of Excellence at UNH, and providing grants directly to New Hampshire communities.
"My approach since day one has been to increase family engagement in every setting," said Governor Chris Sununu. "This grant will build on my administration's commitment to Early Childhood Development. It started with creating full-day kindergarten funding in 2017. We have established a coordinated system of support across all aspects of early childhood education. And while the Democrats in the Legislature removed my $6 million investment into the UNH Early Childhood Center of Excellence in the last budget, this grant will help move this project forward. Recently, we have seen some other federal grants fall victim to partisan politics in the Legislature and that cannot happen here. Both parties have a responsibility to deliver results for our kids and it is imperative the Legislature not reject these funds."
"While many educational and public health indicators rank New Hampshire above other states, there are disparities, especially among New Hampshire's most vulnerable families," said Kimberly Nesbitt, UNH Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and the primary investigator on the grant. "UNH is committed to undertaking research like to make a positive impact on the state and its people."
A Needs Assessment revealed that 70% of parents turn to family, friends, and neighbors when looking for information on effective early childhood care and education. New Hampshire has used this knowledge to drive the state's unique approach in which parents play a dual role as both recipients and providers of supports and services. Recognizing that families are the most local, and often most trusted, source of support, New Hampshire's proposed strategies are centered on communities as the hub for engagement, capacity building, and service delivery.
"Over the last couple of years, DHHS has been intensely focused on integrating and strengthening programs and services that support families with young children," said Christine Tappan, Associate Commissioner, Human Services & Behavioral Health. "This grant links to and leverages numerous DHHS efforts already underway including: Child Welfare Transformation, 10 Year Mental Health Plan, Community Collaborations, and the Whole Family Approach to Jobs all of which have at their core elevating the voice of parents, locally designed and delivered services that are enabled through state government as facilitators."
"This is an investment in families, helping them build capacity to meet the health and educational needs of their children," added Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. "This grant will help us turn our communities into networks of knowledge and support, giving neighbors the capacity to help each other."