PDG Partners

The Preschool Development Grant is a statewide initiative to make lasting changes to the Birth to 5 early childhood state system. Wisconsin will conduct a needs assessment and gather stakeholder feedback to develop a Birth to 5 Strategic Plan – a common agenda to address how all state, regional, and local systems that serve children Birth to 5 will align to produce better outcomes. Direction and leadership comes from the following areas:

  • Wisconsin Governor and First Lady
  • State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Secretary at DCF
  • Leadership Council on Early Years (LCEY) comprised of state agency leaders
  • WI’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC)

The following state agencies take leading roles.

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF)

The Preschool Development Grant is administered by DCF, which serves as PDG’s organizational home. Our department’s vision is that all Wisconsin children and youth are safe and loved members of thriving families and communities. To reach our goal, we are focused on reducing racial and ethnic disparities in our programs and services, focusing on five key priorities:

  • Systematically increasing access to quality early care and education programs that support the needs of children and families statewide
  • Putting families in the center of successful child support and good-paying jobs programs
  • Safely transforming the child welfare and youth justice system to dramatically increase the proportion of children supported in their homes and communities
  • Dedicating additional resources to support vulnerable and historically underserved youth, specifically teenage girls, kids with complex care needs, and youth transitioning out of the foster care system
  • Fostering a workplace where agency staff feel engaged, valued, and connected to our vision

DCF serves children and families through programs including Wisconsin Shares, Family Foundations Home Visiting (in conjunction with DHS), Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, Trauma and Recovery Project, Connections Count and more.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) advances public education for children (4K-12) and libraries in Wisconsin. Their goal is to ensure that every child graduates ready for further education and the workplace. Led by State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly, DPI administers state and federal laws affecting Wisconsin’s local education agencies. The department manages several state and federal education programs that serve children under 6, including the Wisconsin Head Start State Supplement Grant, Title I- and IDEA-funded programs, and child and community nutrition program.

The DPI is committed to early learners. The DPI serves as a primary partner in administering the PDG. State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly serves as co-chair of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) along with Secretary Amundson of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and is also a member of the Governor’s Leadership Council on Early Years (LCEY). Additionally, the DPI provides over 70 percent of the federal cost sharing/match requirement for Wisconsin’s PDG award.

2020 PDG highlights include the following:

  • Establishment of DPI’s Young Learners Tribal Language Revitalization Initiative through PDG-funded grants to Wisconsin tribes
  • Planning and facilitation of regional listening sessions to gather needs assessment data
  • Development and dissemination of the following resources:

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS)

DHS serves children and families through programs including Part C Early Intervention (Birth to 3 Program), Family Foundations Home Visiting (in conjunction with DCF), Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention, Lead-Safe Wisconsin, Seal-A-Smile and more! Along with forming part of the interconnected network of services for young children, DHS also contributes to the grant in other ways. Part of the PDG is identifying an unduplicated count of children 0-5 and the services they received during these critical years. DHS is a vital contributor to this effort.

WI DHS and Lead Remediation Work

Lead exposure and the clean water needs of Wisconsin’s youngest children are public health issues that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Health Services (DHS) are working in partnership to address for early care and education (ECE) facilities. Young children are at particular risk from lead exposure, even at low levels, because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults. Many young children spend significant amounts of time in child care settings and, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), child care facilities, among other types of buildings, may have a higher potential for elevated lead levels in their drinking water from being closed over weekends, holidays, and extended breaks during which lead in pipes and other fixtures can leach into the water.

PDG funding, in conjunction with funding from the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) Grant from the EPA, will be used to test water in licensed group ECE facilities for lead contamination and based on test results, implement lead remediation services which may include, filter installation and maintenance, replacing lead fixtures, and providing bottled water and/or clean water filling stations. DHS is also working on outreach, awareness, and education regarding lead exposure and lead remediation activities.

DHS is currently piloting the lead water testing and remediation activities in partnership with the Rock County Public Health Department with plans to roll out the program statewide next year. Seven licensed group child care programs in Rock County were invited to participate in the pilot program. Rock County Public Health is in the process of collecting water samples to be sent to the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene for testing. DHS, Rock County Public Health, and DCF will continue their collaboration throughout the pilot to support the ECE programs in remediation activities, including communication with staff and families.

To date, DCF and DHS have worked in partnership with Rock County Public Health to develop a sampling plan, create communication templates for child care programs to use, establish potential remediation activities, and select a recordkeeping database.

It is important to note that in Wisconsin, lead paint is also a significant source of lead poisoning. DHS provides many lead poisoning prevention programs and resources for ECE providers. Click here for more information about the Lead-Safe Homes Program and the Choose Safe Places Program. Click here for a flyer providing guidance for child care providers regarding lead-based paint hazards in child care settings.

PDG Partners

The following organizations and programs have partnered to support the PDG. Click on each partner to learn more.


Comments? Questions? Email wipdg@wisconsin.gov