Early Childhood Education Programs

The Rhode Island Department of Education is committed to ensuring that all children begin school ready to learn and are ready to have success in their schooling careers, as life-long learners, and productive citizens. 

NEW!  You can now apply online for the 2014 - 2015 state Pre-K lottery by clicking here. Or you can still choose to download, print and deliver an application from the list below to each Pre-K program that you are eligible to apply for.

¡ NUEVO! Ahora puede aplicar en la web para la lotería estatal de Pre-K 2014-2015 haciendo clic aquí. También puede elegir a descargar, imprimir y entregar una solicitud a cada programa de Pre-K que usted sea elegible para solicitar. Ver abajo las aplicaciones descargables.

Students on climbing structureProviding access to voluntary, free, high-quality pre-kindergarten programs is a strategy proven to help close the achievement gaps that are noticeable even before children enter school and to provide increased educational opportunities for all students. Research shows that attending high quality early childhood education programs helps children develop important social and cognitive skills and knowledge that prepares them to succeed in school.

There is clear evidence of long-lasting benefits for children who participate in very high quality educationally focused early childhood programs. The benefits to children can also generate substantial government savings, including reduced need for special education services, reduced need for cash assistance and other public benefits as well as reduced rates of incarceration. In fact an analysis by economist Robert Lynch, from the Economic Policy Institute, predicts that:

“A public investment in providing high-quality prekindergarten to all Rhode Island children ages 3 and 4 would start paying for itself by generating cost savings within 9 years. By the year 2050, the ratio of total benefits to total costs would be 8 to 1.”

The Rhode Island Education Aid Foundation Formula approved in 2010 will take a phased-in approach to expanding access to high-quality Pre-K starting with communities that have a high proportion of children eligible for free and reduced price lunch. The phased-in approach will allow our state to ensure that Pre-K expansion creates high-quality learning programs, improves access for the students who need it the most, and assures a smooth transition between early childhood and K-12.

Technical Paper on Setting Expectations for Rhode Island's Youngest Children: Developing High-Quality Early Learning and Development Standards [PDF, 238KB]

Two sites added for 2014-15 free Pre-Kindergarten Program

Spaces available for 306 children in 8 Rhode Island communities - applications now available / las aplicaciones ahora disponibles

The R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) is adding 2 new sites this fall to the 2014-15 Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program, bringing the total number of sites to 17, serving 8 communities.

The new sites are CHILD, Inc., at 160 Draper Avenue, Warwick, and Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP), at 848 Atwood Avenue, Cranston.

“The quality of education that children receive from ages 3 to 5 is a huge factor in how well those children perform in elementary school and beyond,” said Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “I’m very pleased that we have developed our Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program over the past six years and that, once again, we will be able to expand the program this fall to serve even more Rhode Island families.”

Commissioner Gist also thanked Governor Chafee and the members of the General Assembly for fully funding early-childhood education in the current (Fiscal Year 2015) state budget. The Fiscal Year 2015 budget increases aid to early childhood education by $1,000,000 for a total early childhood education budget of $2.95 million.

The seventeen 2014-15 Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program sites are:

Central Falls:

  • Central Falls School District, Capt. Hunt Early Learning Center (12 Kendall Street)
    This coming school year, the Central Falls School Department will continue to operate one Pre-K classroom at the Captain Hunt Early Learning Center. This coming school year will be its third year of involvement with the Pre-Kindergarten Program.

Cranston:

  • Comprehensive Community Action Program (848 Atwood Ave.)
    Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP), a Head Start grantee, will operate one pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) classroom in Cranston. This coming school year (2014-15) will be its first year of involvement with the Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program.

Newport:

  • East Bay Community Action Program Head Start (8 John Chafee Blvd.)
    East Bay Community Action Program, a Head Start grantee, will operate two state Pre-K classrooms. This coming school year will be its second year of involvement with the Pre-Kindergarten Program.

Pawtucket:

  • Ready to Learn Providence @ Heritage Park YMCA Early Learning Center (333 Roosevelt Avenue)
    Ready to Learn Providence, a program of the Providence Plan, will operate one state Pre-K classroom at the Heritage Park YMCA Early Learning Center. Ready to Learn Providence has been involved with the Pre-kindergarten Program since its inception in 2009. 

Providence:

  • Beautiful Beginnings (700 Elmwood Avenue)
    Beautiful Beginnings, a program of the Jammat Housing and Community Development Corporation, will operate one state Pre-K classroom in Providence. Beautiful Beginnings has been involved with the Pre-Kindergarten Program since its inception in 2009.
  • The Mariposa Center (1 Corliss Park)
    The Mariposa Center will operate one state Pre-K classroom at its new location, the Rhode Island School for the Deaf. The Mariposa Center has been involved with the Pre-kindergarten Program since its inception in 2009.
  • Ready to Learn Providence @ CCRI Liston Campus (1 Hilton Street)
    Ready to Learn Providence, a program of the Providence Plan, will operate one state Pre-K classroom at the Community College of Rhode Island Providence campus. Ready to Learn Providence has been involved with the Pre-Kindergarten Program since its inception in 2009.
  • Smith Hill Early Childhood Learning Center (25 Danforth Street)
    Smith Hill Early Childhood Learning Center will operate two state Pre-K classrooms in Providence. The Center is a program of Capital City Community Center, a nonprofit social-service agency located in the Smith Hill section of Providence. This coming school year will be its second year of involvement with the Pre-Kindergarten Program.

Warwick:

  • CHILD, Inc. (160 Draper Avenue)
    Child, Inc., a Head Start grantee, will operate one state Pre-K classroom in Warwick. This coming school year (2014-15) will be its third year of involvement with the Pre-kindergarten Program.
  • Imagine Preschool @ CCRI Knight Campus (400 East Avenue)
    Imagine Preschool, a program of the Providence Center, will operate one state Pre-K classroom at the Community College of Rhode Island Warwick campus. Imagine Preschool has been involved with the Pre-Kindergarten Program since its inception in 2009. 
  • Westbay Community Action Children’s Center (22 Astral Street)
    Westbay Community Action Children’s Center, a program of Westbay Community Action, Inc., will operate one state Pre-K classroom in Warwick. Westbay Community Action Children’s Center has been involved with the Pre-Kindergarten Program since its inception in 2009.

West Warwick:

  • CHILD, Inc. (28 Payan Street)
    Child, Inc., a Head Start grantee, will operate two state Pre-K classrooms in West Warwick. This coming school year (2014-15) will be its third year of involvement with the Pre-Kindergarten Program.

Woonsocket:

  • Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association (204 Warwick Street)
    Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association will operate two state Pre-K classrooms. Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association has been involved with the Pre-Kindergarten Program since its inception in 2009.

2014-15 STATE PRE-K LOTTERY APPLICATION

The Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program, entering its 6th year, provides free, high-quality pre-kindergarten classes to eligible children. RIDE oversees the program. Statewide, spaces are available for 306 children to participate in the 17 pre-kindergarten classes.

Children will be selected for enrollment through a state-supervised lottery held in early August. Each classroom will enroll 18 children. Children will be assigned to classrooms in their community of residence.

To be eligible for enrollment, children must:
  • turn 4 years of age by September 1, 2014; and
  • live in the community in which the Pre-K program is located.
A copy of birth certificate, proof of residency, and family income verification will be required upon enrollment. Completed lottery applications should be delivered to the program of choice. Applications will not be accepted at the Department of Education.

Parents may apply at more than one site if multiple sites exist in the community of residence, but only one application per site will be accepted. All applications should be delivered to the Pre-K program of choice. Applications will not be accepted at the Department of Education. If selected during the lottery, enrollment will be offered for that site only.

Applications will be accepted until August 6, 2014.

Questions? Contact Franklin Brito at Franklin.Brito@ride.ri.gov or 401-222-8184

NEW!  You can now apply online for the 2014 - 2015 state Pre-K lottery by clicking here. Or you can still choose to download, print and deliver an application to each Pre-K program that you are eligible to apply for. ¡ NUEVO! Ahora puede aplicar en la web para la lotería estatal de Pre-K 2014-2015 haciendo clic aquí. También puede elegir a descargar, imprimir y entregar una solicitud a cada programa de Pre-K que usted sea elegible para solicitar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-K Program Overview

In 2008, the RI General Assembly enacted legislation directing the RI Department of Education to begin planning for an initial pilot prekindergarten program meeting high-quality standards. The resulting design has earned the program a quality rating of 10 out of 10 in the annual National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) State of Preschool publication.

Curriculum

From the time children walk into a RI Pre-Kindergarten classroom until the time they leave, children are actively engaged in learning. Intentional teaching means that teachers apply what they know from research and best practice in the field of early childhood and intentionally plan their day to ensure that every child gets the most out of every experience.

Classroom Quality

RI Pre-Kindergarten teachers are committed to continually assessing and refining their teaching practice to be the best that they can be. PreK Program classrooms use a number of tools that provide data to teachers about their classroom practices.

Child Assessment

RI Pre-Kindergarten classroom teachers implement a system of ongoing child assessment which includes observations of children, samples of children’s work, interviews with children, and interviews with parents. This information is entered into a web-based child portfolio using Teaching Strategies GOLD and is used by teachers to inform curriculum planning, to differentiate instruction for individual students and groups of students, and to ensure that children make steady progress toward learning outcomes.

Family Engagement

Family Engagement is a core component of high-quality, early education classrooms. Children do better in school when they experience a preschool curriculum that is culturally relevant and integrates elements of their own life experiences. In addition, when parents and caregivers partner with teachers and support children’s learning at home, we create the conditions that maximize outcomes for children.

By act of the General Assembly in 1968, nursery schools and kindergartens were endorsed as the initial steps in early childhood education and were thereby made an integral part of the education system of Rhode Island. This act was the result of an upsurge of interest across the nation in offering planned educational opportunities to preschoolers; the establishment of an increasing number of facilities for children under six; and the demand by parents for a safe, healthy and acceptable places for their child to begin his/her educational experience. Thus, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) was authorized to plan for the approval of existing early childhood programs and to assume leadership in establishing of standards for new facilities. That is, by legislative act, namely, Chapter 48 of Title 16 of the General Laws of Rhode Island, the Commissioner was given responsibility for setting standards and planning approval procedures for educational programs serving children three to six years of age.

General Information

Pursuant to state law (RIGL 16-48), the Comprehensive Early Childhood Education Program Approval standards shall apply to early childhood education programs in order to ensure developmentally appropriate early development and learning experiences based on Rhode Island’s Early Learning Standards to children between the ages of three (3) to six (6) years of age.

These standards shall also pertain to kindergarten classrooms operating in private programs in which kindergarten is the terminal grade.
Applicants must already meet the Tier 1/Foundational Level of being either:

  • A Child Day Care Center, Family Child Care Home, Head Start Program, or private preschool licensed by the State of Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families OR
  • A program housed in a public or private K-12 school that meets physical facility requirements of the RI Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Pursuant to these standards, applications to the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education represent the program's desire to seek voluntary approval as a Comprehensive Early Childhood Education Program. For important updates to the 2014 CECE application and approval process, programs intending to apply for CECE program approval should contact Carla Swanson at Carla.Swanson@ride.ri.gov or 401-222-8994.


Program Curriculum Framework

For an overview of how to develop and submit an approvable Program Curriculum Framework, please reference:

  • ADA Guidance: The publication Commonly Asked Questions about Child Care Centers and The Americans with Disabilities Act is available through the Department of Justice.
  • BrightStars: BrightStars is Rhode Island’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). QRIS initiatives exist in many states across the country, and although each state model is unique, all QRIS programs are designed to rate the quality or level of a child care program, identify areas for improvement, inform families about levels of quality, and target quality improvement resources.
  • Caring for Our Children: The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education publishes Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Out-of-Home Child Care, 2nd Edition as a FREE downloadable copy.
  • Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) is a system for observing and assessing the quality of interactions between teachers and students in classrooms.
  • Division of Early Childhood (DEC), Council for Exceptional Children: The DEC is a non-profit membership organization designed for individuals who work with or on behalf of children with special needs, birth through eight years and their families.
  • DCYF Licensing and Programs:  To begin the licensing process with DCYF, please email Brenda Almeida. Be sure to include the following information with your request: your program name, mailing address, phone number and person to contact.
  • The Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale (ECERS)
  • Handbook of Public Playground Safety: The Handbook of Public Safety is a Consumer Products Safety Commission document available to be downloaded for free.  
  • LISC: LISC operates The Rhode Island Child Care Facilities Funds, which provides the capital and technical expertise that child care programs need to improve the quality and capacity of their physical space. The Fund assists licensed child care centers and homes that are committed to providing high quality care and to serving low-income children eligible for DHS subsidies from infancy through school-age years.
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): The NAEYC is the nation's largest early childhood professional membership association for early childhood educators. NAEYC sponsors a variety of training including an annual conference; published the journal "Young Children", and various resource materials; advocated related to national, state, and local public policy; provides a variety of documents on effective practice related to young children; and operates an accreditation system designed to improve the quality of care and education provided for young children in group programs.
  • RIDE: Evaluation of Credential Request
  • RI Early Learning Council
  • RI Early Learning and Development Standards
  • Rhode Island Red Cross
  • Safe Water Drinking Act

Professional Development Resources

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