Brief: Use ESSER relief funds for early childhood programs

by | Sep 20, 2021

Mitchell Clark policy research interns

If your school district has not yet invited public input on the distribution of its forthcoming Emergency and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, you may still have an opportunity to advocate using them to promote early childhood education. ESSER, a component of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is intended to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on children’s learning outcomes. According to federal guidelines, that includes preschool and other qualifying early childhood programs.

ESSER dollars are awarded to state education agencies which then distribute them to local education agencies with administrative authority over public schools. State education agencies must distribute at least 90% of ESSER funds to local educational agencies, but local agencies must apply for them.

First Five Nebraska’s brief on ESSER funds outlines the allowable uses of ESSER dollars for early childhood including home-visiting programs, Head Start or community-based child care programs, and professional development early childhood educators. Download the brief and be sure to find out where your school district is in the decision-making process concerning these funds.

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