Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities


**IMPORTANT UPDATE - 5/15/2020**

Over the past two months, the Department paused some of the PDG grant work due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Because of the current COVID-19 public health crisis, we are postponing all scheduled face-to-face PDG listening sessions, but we remain committed to finding ways to gather your feedback.

The PDG grant is an opportunity to make lasting improvements to Wisconsin’s early care and education system. Based on guidance provided to the Department from our federal program managers, PDG funds are not available for early child care day-to-day services and must be used for research activities as outlined in the original grant application. We continue to work with our federal grant project managers, as well as statewide partners, to move grant activities forward.

We are working with our federal grant partners on the exploration of no-cost extension. This means that we may be granted additional time to complete the work outlined in the grant with no additional money from the federal government. We will formally apply for the extension when permitted in September 2020.

The Department recognizes the challenges that all people are facing during this time. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please check the PDG webpage often for additional updates and to join our PDG email list. You can learn more about what DCF is doing to help children and families by visiting DCF COVID-19 Updates.

Wisconsin's Opportunity to Transform Early Care and Education

Información en español

The Preschool Development Grant - Birth to Five (PDG B-5) is a one-year federal grant which allows Wisconsin to complete a needs assessment and a strategic plan to improve our early care system. The grant focuses on the following activities:

young girl reading a book
Attracting and retaining early childhood education professionals,
Empowering families to make the best choices for their children,
Building regional networks of support,
And, increasing overall quality of early childhood programs.

Through this work, our vision is that by 2023, all Wisconsin families will have access to high-quality, affordable, local early care and education opportunities. By working together – intentionally aligning and improving how we support and serve our youngest children and families – we will help every child succeed and help Wisconsin thrive.

Overview video

Why invest in early care and education?

Governor Evers believes “what’s best for Wisconsin’s kids is what’s best for our state.” To succeed, we need to increase access and quality of early care and education across the state. Access to quality early care and education is not just a Wisconsin problem – states across the nation are struggling with recruiting and retaining early childhood professionals, maintaining affordability for all families, and improving quality standards. Trusted, quality and affordable programs allow parents to fully participate in the workforce and are an investment in families, communities, and the economy.

How can you get involved?

We know we cannot accomplish this alone and eagerly seek input from all partners throughout this process. We are specifically seeking support for the following:

To join our PDG email list, use the subscribe feature below. For ongoing updates on grant activities, please continue to check this page.

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Grant Opportunities - What's Available?

  • DCF Grant Application – Deadline March 25, 2020 at 2 p.m.
    • Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) is interested in developing a contract that focuses on strengthening the Early Care and Education (ECE) workforce by extending educational and workforce supports to young adult males, influencing interest in the education of Wisconsin’s youngest learners. DCF is seeking applicants to respond to an application with a work plan that provides career preparation opportunities for young adult males of color, ages 18-24, to become early care and education teachers, providing access to secondary education and life-long learning, establishing their commitment to Wisconsin’s youngest learners preparing them for kindergarten, and to promote long-term interest in education.
      Application materials can be found on our website.
      The deadline to submit applications is March 25, 2020 by 2 p.m.  Late applications will not be considered. 
      Please direct any questions to the individual listed in the application announcement. For timely answers, please do not reply to this message with questions.
  • T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships
    • Do you work in regulated early childhood or school age care settings? You might be eligible for a T.E.A.C.H Early Childhood® WISCONSIN scholarship. PDG has increased T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship funding - additional scholarships awards are available and there’s no wait-list! Visit the WECA website  for more information and to apply.
  • Free Applications for The Registry


What activities will be completed during the grant period?

Systemic and sustainable structure

Several new structures will allow Wisconsin to incorporate ideas from across the state and across various interest groups. Those include:

  • The Leadership Council on Early Years (LCEY), comprised of state agency heads,
  • The Interagency PDG Workgroup (IPW), comprised of subject area experts who can connect dots across state agencies, and
  • Regional Workgroups, comprised of local stakeholders who represent various community perspectives.

Needs assessment

The focus of this needs assessment is to uncover WI’s birth to five early care and education quality, affordability, accessibility, and workforce measures, needs, and challenges in a comprehensive, equity-focused manner for our most vulnerable, underserved, and rural populations. Specific activities include:

  • Holding regional listening sessions and focus groups to solicit stakeholder input across the state
  • Interviewing and surveying critical stakeholders, families, providers, businesses, and community members, to better understand barriers and solutions

Strategic plan

The final plan will address how to increase the number of children participating in high-quality early childhood programs and prepared to successfully transition to kindergarten, and metrics to measure progress. Specific activities include:

  • Drafting a strategic plan and soliciting feedback through regional feedback sessions
  • Launching a Stakeholder Engagement Campaign to generate strategic plan feedback
  • Hosting a Workforce Summit to connect the dots across early care and education and workforce development

Technical assistance and local investment

To achieve the additional grant areas (expanding parental knowledge and choice, sharing best practices, and improving overall quality), Wisconsin will complete the following activities:

  • Piloting family navigators in culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • Expanding parent engagement programs in each region
  • Providing increased resources to families
  • Investing in social emotional training and support
  • Increasing TEACH scholarships to support the workforce
  • Establishing a young learners Tribal language revitalization initiative
  • Creating a lead remediation fund for providers
  • Piloting a shared services network
  • Funding regional innovation grants to be responsive to unique local needs