Early Learning:
About Early Learning

Early Learning...

Early Learning at ED

To improve the educational and social emotional outcomes for young children from birth through 3rd grade, the Department administers programs and promotes initiatives that increase access to high-quality early learning programs, improve the early learning workforce, and build state capacity to support high-quality programs and ensure program effectiveness.

The Office of Early Learning (OEL) and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) have primary responsibility for the department’s key early learning investments.

Early Learning Programs

ED funds several programs that specifically focus on young learners (listed below). In addition, early learning is integrated in many ED grant programs. Promise Neighborhoods and Full Service Community Schools grants provide resources for high-need communities to build a continuum of supports and services from prenatal through college and career. The Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program is designed to generate, validate, and expand solutions to persistent educational challenges, including those in early learning. Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program supports comprehensive literacy from birth through grade 12. Demonstration Grants for Indian Children, Native Hawaiian Education and Alaska Native Educational Programs also include projects with a focus on early learning.

Some of the key investments that focus on early learning include:

  • Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C awards formula grants to the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Secretary of the Interior, and outlying areas to assist in implementing statewide systems of coordinated, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary interagency programs and in making early intervention services available to children with disabilities, ages birth through 2, and their families.

  • Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities
    IDEA Part B, Section 619, the IDEA Preschool Grants program, provides formula grants to states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to make special education and related services available for children with disabilities, ages 3 through 5

  • Preschool Development Grants
    Preschool Development Grants support states to build or enhance a preschool program infrastructure that would enable the delivery of high-quality preschool services to children, and expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities that would serve as models for expanding preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.

  • Preschool Development Grant—Birth through Five (PDG B-5)
    The new Preschool Development Grant—Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program, authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides grants to empower state governments to develop, update, and implement a strategic plan to facilitate collaboration and coordination among early childhood care and education programs serving children from birth to age five in a mixed delivery system. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), administers this program in consultation with the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Ready to Learn Television
    Ready to Learn Television supports the development of educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its general goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching low-income children.

  • Child Care Access Means Parents in School
    This program supports the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services

  • Serving Preschool Children through Title I—Non-Regulatory Guidance
    This guidance provides clarity regarding how districts can use Title I, Part A funds to implement high-quality preschool programs for eligible children.


ED's Early Learning newsletter provides monthly updates to subscribers on early learning initiatives led by the Department and our partners across agencies and in the field. Join our mailing list to receive regular ED early learning updates and the monthly Early Learning newsletter. Past newsletters are also available.

Join our mailing list to receive regular ED early learning updates and the monthly Early Learning newsletter.

Last Modified: 09/17/2018