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Why is quality preschool important?

Quality preschool is one of the best strategies to help children have a strong start and a strong future. Ninety percent of the brain is fully developed by the age of 5 – before children start kindergarten. Quality preschool helps children learn, develop cognitive and non-cognitive skills, and sets a foundation for success in school and in life. Children who have quality preschool before entering kindergarten are more likely to enter school prepared, succeed in school, graduate from high school and become productive citizens.

How do you know quality preschool works?

Quality preschool has been proven with decades of national and local research to help children succeed in school and in life – to give children a strong start and a strong future. Quality preschool helps children be ready for kindergarten, read successfully by the end of third grade, do better in school, and graduate from high school prepared for college and careers. Investing in quality preschool also generates strong economic returns, conservatively estimated at $2 to $4 for every $1 invested. The RAND Corporation recently completed a comprehensive, independent review of the benefits and economic returns of investing in quality preschool in Cincinnati. You can read their findings here:

What are the payoffs from investing in quality preschool?

Investing in quality preschool is a sound economic investment. The RAND Corporation recently completed a comprehensive review of the costs and benefits of investing in quality preschool expansion and estimated returns of $2 to $4 for every $1 invested. The savings come from increases in school readiness, reductions in instructional intervention, special education, and grade repetition, as well as higher rates of high school graduation.

How is quality in preschool measured and determined?

Preschool quality in Ohio is measured and determined by a statewide system called Step Up to Quality (SUTQ). SUTQ is a five-star quality rating and improvement system administered by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. SUTQ recognizes and promotes learning and development programs that meet quality program standards that exceed licensing health and safety regulations. The program standards are based on national research identifying standards which lead to improved outcomes for children.

How will preschool expansion be paid for?

$15 million per year of proceeds from the CPS levy will be dedicated to preschool expansion, both within CPS and community providers.

What is the geographic scope? Who is eligible?

Families who live within the boundaries of the Cincinnati Public School District will be eligible to receive preschool tuition credits. Our goal is to provide all families with support for two years of quality preschool. To begin, though, we must prioritize those families who need tuition assistance and quality preschool the most – primarily families below 200-300% of the poverty level. All children enrolled in preschool (regardless of income) stand to benefit though, through quality improvement grants made to preschool providers to enable them to achieve and maintain high levels of quality that support child learning and development.

What will preschool funding pay for?

Preschool expansion funding will fund tuition credits to help families offset the cost of quality preschool as well as quality improvement grants to help preschool programs achieve and maintain high quality.

How does this new preschool funding work with other dollars for preschool education, like Head Start?

New funding for preschool expansion is intended to be “last dollar,” supplementing other federal and state funds that are currently available and being used for preschool, such as Head Start, Title I funding, ODE Expansion Grants, and state child care subsidies. The funding that is currently in the system for preschool is not sufficient to meet the needs of all children in Cincinnati. New preschool funding will also allow preschool providers (including Head Start providers) to expand and serve more children.

How will preschool funding be managed?

CPS issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a local, established nonprofit (a “Trusted Entity”) to manage the preschool expansion initiative, and selected United Way of Greater Cincinnati. United Way will receive the funding from Cincinnati Public Schools for the expansion of quality preschool through community providers and will be responsible for managing the funds and program. The Trusted Entity will be fully accountable to the Board of Education and thereby to the taxpayers. Read more about the governance structure here.

How can providers participate in the Preschool Promise?

Providers that are not yet rated or 1 or 2 star rated on the State’s Step Up To Quality rating scale may apply for Quality Improvement Grants. Providers rated 3, 4 or 5 stars on the Step Up To Quality rating scale may apply to receive Tuition Assistance funding for each eligible child they have enrolled in their program. Eligibility is determined by age, income level and residency of the child within the Cincinnati Public School district boundaries.

Do providers have to be licensed to participate in the Preschool Promise?

Yes, providers must be licensed and in good standing with their licensing body – either the Ohio Department of Education, or the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

How will CPP funds be transferred to providers?

Tuition assistance will be paid monthly, after services are rendered, and can be used for the school day, during the school year. Providers will submit monthly attendance records for each child participating in the Preschool Promise. Payment will be sent via electronic funds transfer (EFT). For providers who are eligible for quality improvement grants, grants will be issued following a complete assessment of quality improvement needs.

What is a quality desert and where are the quality deserts located?

A quality desert is a neighborhood with too few highly-rated quality preschool seats to meet the needs of the 3-4 year old children living in the neighborhood. We will have an updated map within the next few weeks that displays the “quality deserts”, neighborhoods where the potential demand for quality seats is significantly greater than the available supply.

Is the CPP Board diverse?

Yes. The CPP Board includes representation from community providers, engaged parents, corporate executives, the faith community, and early childhood experts. The list of CPP Board members is available on the following link:

How will teacher wage parity be structured?

This is still to be determined. CPP recognizes that a high quality pre-K teacher workforce is critical to providing high quality education to our most needy students.

Is there any new documentation that will be required for applying to become a Tuition Assistance Provider?

Providers will need to supply basic documentation to prove eligibility to receive funding from Preschool Promise (e.g., general program information, location, enrollment, licensing, star-rating, teacher credentials, insurance, etc.) A more detailed list of requirements is contained in the Preschool Promise Provider Handbook. To enroll children with Preschool Promise tuition assistance funding, providers will need to collect an application along with proof of income, age, and residency within the Cincinnati Public School District boundaries. A list of acceptable documentation is contained in the Provider Handbook.

Will Preschool Promise help providers understand how to register students?

Yes. The Preschool Promise will offer training and assistance to help providers register students and help providers meet reporting requirements. CPP understands this is a new process and wants to ensure that participating in the Preschool Promise is as seamless as possible.

Will notarized statements/income affidavits be acceptable forms of proof of income for those who have zero sources of income?

Yes notarized statements and income affidavits will be accepted by CPP to prove zero sources of income.

What is the prioritization schedule that determines who receives Tuition Assistance first?

There is a Master Agreement that has put together general guidelines around income age, CPP is still developing the policy on how access will be determined

Children who are entering the year before kindergarten, who are from families with household incomes below 200% (or $48K for a family of 4)  are likely to be some of the top priorities

Will parents be given a list of the eligible providers?

4C for Children maintains an updated list of Quality Preschool Programs. This is available on the 4C website and a link to 4C’s list of highly-rated providers will be provided on the CPP website.

If I am working on obtaining 3 stars, am I eligible for Tuition Assistance?

In order to receive Tuition Assistance Funds, providers must have already obtained 3, 4 or 5-star SUTQ certification. Providers who have not yet received 3, 4, or 5-star ratings are eligible to apply for quality improvement grants which cover coaching and other supports to help providers achieve higher ratings. Per the Master Agreement, exceptions include CPS district preschool sites, Archdiocese programs, and Head Start programs. CPS district preschool sites will be presumed to have a 5-star rating for the 2017-18 School Year. Archdiocese programs and Head Start programs that are self-administered and delegated will be presumed to have at least a 3-star rating assuming a proper application has been made to the State for a rating on Ohio’s Step Up to Quality rating scale.

Are there plans to expand Tuition Assistance to students attending preschools outside of the CPS boundary?

No. Because Preschool Promise is supported by CPS levy funds, Tuition Assistance funds are limited to students who both reside in Cincinnati and attend preschool inside the CPS district boundary.

How does the layering of funds work?

Preschool Promise funds are “last dollar leveraged,” meaning that all other publicly available funding sources that a child is eligible for will be considered first. These funding sources will be applied to the tuition credit calculator before determining the Tuition Assistance credits an eligible child will receive. The CPP funding formula is based on a provider’s star-rating, the child’s household income level, and the child’s enrollment schedule (school day or part day, and number of days per week) along with a deduction for any other public funding the child is eligible for or receiving. Total reimbursement to any provider will not exceed $8,581.00 for any given child. Funding will be transferred directly to a provider on a monthly basis for each eligible and enrolled child.

How much do providers at the highest reimbursements level receive?

The maximum Preschool Promise reimbursement amount is $8,581.00 for a 5-star preschool program during the school day and school year. Reimbursement amounts will be tiered based on the star-rating of the preschool program. All other public funding a child is receiving or eligible to receive must be accounted for prior to accessing local funding from CPP.

What are the components of the funding formula used to calculate Tuition Assistance credits?

The CPP funding formula is based on a provider’s star- rating, the child’s household income level, and the child’s enrollment schedule (school day or part day, and number of days per week) along with a deduction for any other public funding the child is eligible for or receiving. The maximum amount of CPP tuition assistance available for a child enrolled in a 5-star program for the full school day and school year is $8,581.00. The maximum for a 4-star program is 90% of that, or $7,723.00. The maximum for a 3-star program is 75%, or $6,436.00. Programs that are unrated or have a rating of 1 or 2 stars are not eligible to receive CPP Tuition Assistance funding.

What happens if you are a 3/4/5-star provider and you lose one (or more) of your stars? What happens to funding? What happens to the Preschool Promise children?

Provider Notification:

  • Provider must notify the Cincinnati Preschool Promise (CPP) immediately
    (Note: actual time requirement TBD)
  • The CPP will develop an appropriate plan of action to  begin remediating the issue,
  • An appeals process will be established.

Parent Communication:
If a program’s star rating decreases:

  • CPP will issue a letter to the provider and families
  • Letter will state that the program has lost its star rating (or rating has decreased)
    • If a program’s star rating decreases below a 3, parents will be informed that tuition assistance will be affected by this type of rating change.

If tuition assistance will be affected (if rating drops below a 3), CPP will work with parents to find an option that is suitable to them, and the appropriate time for a grace period will be determined depending on parent circumstances.

What percentage of funds will be allocated to Tuition Assistance?

The funding allocation rules are still being determined by the CPP Board and Staff, however allocations will also be dependent on the amount of providers who apply to become Preschool Promise Providers, and the amount of parents who register their preschool-aged children for Tuition Assistance.

Will CPP have open lines of communication with ODJFS regarding communications that may need to go to families of children who are receiving JFS vouchers and Preschool Promise funds?

Yes, CPP plans to partner with several organizations, including ODJFS, to ensure that parents of children who are recipients of various funding sources receive consistent information. CPP is also working to streamline the application and verification processes for children who are already receiving other public funding, to reduce the amount of duplicative documentation a family must submit to CPP.

Do parents who receive Publicly Funded Child Care subsidies have to apply for Tuition Assistance in a separate process?

Parents who receive Publicly Funded Child Care subsidies are eligible to apply for Preschool Promise tuition assistance if they meet age and residency requirements. Parents will need to complete an application for the Preschool Promise, though we are working on streamlining the documentation that is required for parents who are already receiving other forms of public funding for preschool.

Do parents have to apply to receive Tuition Assistance funding?

Yes, parents must apply for CPP Tuition Assistance funding. Preschool Promise providers are responsible for helping parents with applying for Tuition Assistance, and collecting all of the required documentation (proof of age, income, and residency within the Cincinnati Public School District boundaries). CPP will help providers with technical support and other training needed to understand this new system. Providers will submit the documentation to CPP. CPP will determine eligibility and calculate the tuition credits for the child. Funds will be transferred to the provider directly for each child on a monthly basis.

Will Tuition Assistance cover after-school care?

Preschool Promise funding supports up to the cost of a school day (6.5 hours – 8 hours) and up to the school year (9-month academic school year).

Are 3-year-olds eligible for Tuition Assistance funds?

  • There is a Master Agreement that has put together general guidelines around income and age, but CPP is still developing the policy on how access will be determined
  • Families under 200% FPL and children who are entering the year before kindergarten are likely to be some of the top priorities

In developing these policies, CPP will consider other funding available to preschool-aged children, given the goals of expanding access

Should parents of 3-year old children attend parent information sessions?

Yes, parents of 3-year olds should attend parent information sessions. While Tuition Assistance funds will be prioritized for children entering the year prior to kindergarten, 3-year olds will also be considered for Tuition Assistance funding.

What if the child turns pre-school age in the middle of the school year?

Applications for Tuition Assistance will be considered on a rolling basis.

What is the process to apply for a Quality Improvement Grant?

Providers within the CPS district boundary that are not yet rated, or that have 1 or 2 stars on the Step Up To Quality rating system are encouraged to apply for Quality Improvement grants. After submitting an application to CPP, CPP will assign a coach to assess the preschool program, and determine the program’s needs. A Quality Improvement Council will determine which providers are selected to receive grants, and will use the assessment to determine the grant size.

Do quality improvement grants cover the entire program, or just a classroom?

Quality improvement grants are intended to provide targeted supports and coaching for an entire preschool program to become rated and eventually achieve a high rating of 3 to 5 stars.

Can providers who are not 3, 4, or 5 star-rated receive Tuition Assistance Funds?

No, providers who are unrated, or rated at a 1 or 2 on SUTQ are not eligible to receive Tuition Assistance Funds. These providers may, however, apply for Quality Improvement Grants which will provide coaching and other targeted supports to help your program become rated and eventually achieve a high rating of 3 to 5 stars.

How will Quality Improvement funds be prioritized?

The quality improvement fund prioritization schedule will be determined by a CPP’s Quality Improvement Council once all members are appointed.  The Council will be responsible for overseeing the grant selection process, managing external coaches, and assessing program impact.

The intention is to prioritize quality improvement funds for programs in the quality deserts, in order to facilitate expansion and greater access to quality seats, as well as supporting programs that demonstrate (through assessments) that funds will enable them to reach a 3-star or higher rating within 12 months.

Are Quality Improvement grants a one-time allocation or ongoing?

Quality Improvement grants must be applied for on an annual basis; if a provider is unable to reach a 3-star rating or higher after a year of supports, the provider may apply for additional funding in the following year. If the provider reaches a 3-star rating or higher, the provider is no longer eligible for quality improvement funds, but becomes eligible to receive Tuition Assistance funds on behalf of its eligible children.

Should an unrated, or 1 or 2-star rated provider encourage parents to attend a CPP information session?

Yes, parents should still attend information sessions, so they may learn about the various options of funding available across providers in the Cincinnati Public School boundary. Parents will learn about the benefits to their children from the quality improvement funding available to programs that are unrated or have 1 or 2 stars.

Will Preschool Promise funds cover scholarships for teachers?

Current levy funds will not provide teacher scholarships, however, quality improvement grants will include teacher development supports such as CDA funding and other professional development sorts. The CPP board plans to examine additional fundraising opportunities to address areas where levy funds are not enough to address additional barriers to quality, including supporting the early childhood teacher pipeline.