US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Functional Statements > Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Office of Early Learning

The Office of Early Learning (OEL) provides financial and technical assistance to States to help improve the health, social, emotional, and cognitive outcomes for all children, especially children with high needs, from birth through third grade so that more children enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and continue on track to be college and career ready.

The Office administers the Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge, Even Start, Early Reading First, Early Childhood Educator Professional Development discretionary grant programs. OEL is also responsible for helping coordinate early learning-related programs, technical assistance, outreach, and interagency work across the Department.

OEL is headed by a Director who reports to and advises the Assistant Secretary and/or respective Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning on matters related to the programs administered by OEL and, more generally, on matters related to the education of young children from birth through third grade.

The Office is responsible for helping to shape the Department’s overall early learning agenda in ways that are consistent with current research and evidence-based best practices and administers the new Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, Even Start (State and Tribal), Early Reading First, and Early Childhood Professional Development programs. This office also has responsibility for working collaboratively with other OESE program offices and other principal operating components within the Department and across federal agencies to develop strategies, guidance, and networks designed to improve the quality of early learning programs and increase access to high-quality programs for children with high needs.

The administration of these programs may involve the development of legislative proposals; formulation of program regulations and policies; the establishment of management goals and priorities; the provision of leadership and information to the early learning community and others concerned with the issues addressed by the programs; the design and conduct of grant selection procedures; the selection of grant recipients; technical assistance for prospective grant applicants; project monitoring; technical assistance and guidance to grant recipients to promote project success; and direction of the teams and staff responsible for conducting programs and management tasks.

In administering its assigned programs, OEL establishes cooperative relationships with other departmental principal offices and with other federal agencies, and governmental and nongovernmental organizations as appropriate. For example, OEL administers the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant program jointly with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the terms outlined in an interagency agreement.


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Last Modified: 10/06/2014