Public Sector Solutions, Education, Children & Families, Data Solutions

Key Takeaway

Social Finance partnered with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to measure and evaluate the impact of the state’s Preschool Development Grant. Using a results framework, we found that the OEC made significant progress on its Preschool Development Grant goals in 2022.

The Preschool Development Grant “Birth through Five” (PDG B-5) program is a competitive federal grant from the U.S. Administration for Children and Families that aims to improve school readiness for children from low-income families. The program provides funding for states to improve their existing early childhood programs and services through two grants: one-year planning grants and three-year renewal grants. 


Total PDG grant funding received by the state of Connecticut

State awardees must prepare an annual report demonstrating their progress and successes. This process can be challenging, as it requires states to self-examine the implementation, outputs, and outcomes of their PDG B-5 grant activities. This involves extensive stakeholder engagement and the development of key performance indicators to track progress.  

Supporting Connecticut’s Preschool Development Grant Program 

Through the PDG B-5 program, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) was awarded a three-year renewal grant for $26.8 million in 2020 and a $3.9 million planning grant in 2023. These grants have empowered Connecticut to enhance coordination among existing early childhood programs and supported the state’s progress toward a more strategic, equitable early childhood system.  

Social Finance partnered with OEC at the beginning of 2022 to design a measurement and evaluation strategy to meet the grant’s quarterly and annual reporting requirements. Our evaluation used a results framework: a logic model that summarizes the connections between the goals, inputs, outputs, and outcomes of each grant initiative. This tool allows evaluators to update relevant program activities and outputs, outline expected results and the pathways to achieve them, and align with stakeholders on program objectives. 

Key Findings

We found that the OEC made significant progress on its Preschool Development Grant goals in 2022. Grant funds helped 26 initiatives achieve desired outcomes, including: 

  • Providing Bonus Payments to Early Childhood Educators: The OEC distributed $16.7 million in one-time payments to eligible staff at licensed childcare centers. A contractor supported by PDG funds provided key project management support for the rollout of these payments. The OEC also used PDG dollars to fund the Qualified Workforce Incentives program, which awarded $1.3 million in bonus payments to nearly 900 childcare staff for earning early education credentials.  
  • Improving the OEC’s Operational Efficiency and Project Management: The OEC used PDG funds to support a contractor in managing $241 million in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and American Rescue Plan Act funding. They also used grant funds to hire Skylight, a digital government consultancy, for digital support, including automating the collection of enrollment data from early childcare providers. 
  • Improving Service Coordination and Quality: The OEC also used PDG funds to design and monitor an outcomes rate card for home visiting services from July 2021 through June 2023. By setting operational priorities and incentivizing provider performance, the rate card resulted in $630,000 in performance-based bonus payments for providers in its first year.
  • Increasing Equal Access to Quality Early Childhood Services: PDG funds supported efforts to design a more equitable fee structure for families in state-funded infant and toddler programs. As of 2022, households earning less than Connecticut’s 2022 median income will spend no more than 9.5% of their income on infant or toddler care and no more than 8% on pre-kindergarten care. Additionally, PDG funds facilitated the expansion of the Sparkler app, a mobile tool that provides developmental screening for children. Grant funds also supported the Doula Project, which increased statewide access to doula services, particularly for marginalized communities.  
  • Bolstering Community Engagement: The OEC’s Parent Cabinet bridges gaps between families and decision-makers. PDG funds have directly supported parent stipends for participation in Parent Cabinet activities. The Odonnell Company, a marketing agency, supported this work by creating a one-page outreach document describing all the resources available to parents across Connecticut. Grant funds also supported Local Early Childhood Collaboratives, which provide a one-stop-shop of early childhood resources for communities.  
Explore all of the OEC’s Preschool Development Grant funded services, and their outcomes, in the interactive chart below:

Social Finance provided advisory support to the OEC on multiple PDG-funded initiatives listed above, including: Universal Nurse Home Visiting Program, Home Visiting Rate Card, Governor Workforce Council Equity and Access Committee, Project Management for Early Care and Education System Planning & Redesign, and Project Management to Distribute One-Time Bonuses to ECE Staff. Read more about our existing work and partnership with OEC here.

In 2024, we will continue to coordinate ongoing quarterly and annual reporting on OEC initiatives funded by the Preschool Development Grant program. 

Interested in learning more about our work with states to support ongoing performance evaluation?

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