Early Learning Fund

Published on AidPage by IDILOGIC on Jun 24, 2005

Purpose of this program:

To increase the availability of voluntary programs, services, and activities that support early childhood development, increase parent effectiveness, and promote the learning readiness of young children to enter school ready to learn. To support parents, child care providers, and caregivers wanting to incorporate early learning activities into the daily lives of young children. To remove barriers to the provision of an accessible system of early childhood learning programs in communities throughout the United States. To increase the availability and affordability of professional development activities and compensation for caregivers and child care providers. To facilitate the development of community-based systems of collaborative service delivery models characterized by resource sharing and linkages among the appropriate support groups and services for local planning.

Possible uses and use restrictions...

In general, Local Councils may use Early Learning Opportunities Act (ELOA) funds to pay for developing, operating, or enhancing voluntary early learning programs that are likely to produce sustained gains in early learning. In Fiscal Year 2004, the Child Care Bureau will only consider for funding those Local Councils that include in their applications activities for "enhancing early childhood literacy" and two or more of the following activities: (1) Helping parents, caregivers, child care providers, and educators increase their capacity to facilitate the development of cognitive, language comprehension, expressive language, social-emotional, and motor skills, and promote learning readiness; (2) promoting effective parenting; (3) developing linkages among early learning programs within a community and between early learning programs and health care services for young children; (4) increasing access to early learning opportunities for young children with special needs, including developmental delays, by facilitating coordination with other programs serving such young children; (5) increasing access to existing early learning programs by expanding the days or times that the young children are served, by expanding the number of young children served, or by improving the affordability of the programs for low-income families; (6) improving the quality of early learning through professional development and training activities, increased compensation, and recruitment and retention incentives, for early learning providers; and (7) removing barriers to early learning, including transportation difficulties and absence of programs during nontraditional work times. In the case of a collaborative activity funded under the ELOA and another provision of law providing for Federal child care or early learning programs, the use of equipment and nonconsumable supplies will not be restricted to children enrolled or otherwise participating in the program carried out under this program or other provision during a period in which the activity is predominately funded under ELOA or other provision. No person, including a parent will be required to participate in any program of early childhood education, early learning, parent education, or developmental screening pursuant to the provisions of the program. Nothing in this program will be construed to affect the rights of parents otherwise established in Federal, State, or local law. No entity that receives funds under this program will be required to provide services through a particular instructional method or in a particular instructional setting to comply with the program. No funds provided under this program will be used to carry out an activity funded under another provision of law providing for Federal child care or early learning programs, unless an expansion of such activity is identified in the local needs assessment and performance goals under the program. Amounts received under this program will be used to supplement and not supplant other Federal, State, and local public funds expended to promote early learning. ELOA funds may not be used for construction purposes or for the purchase of real property.

Who is eligible to apply...

When Congress appropriates at least $150 million to carry-out activities under the ELOA, grants will be provided on a formula-basis to States. States will fund Local Councils that have been designated by an entity of local government. Indian Tribes, Alaska Regional Corporations, and Native Hawaiian entities will be eligible to compete for reserved funds as specified in the Act. At appropriation levels below $150 million in any fiscal year, the Administration for Children and Families, Child Care Bureau, is directed to award grants directly to Local Councils, on a competitive basis. Eligible Local Councils must be designated, in writing, by an entity of local government (or Indian Tribe, Alaska Regional Corporation, or Native Hawaiian entity). "State" means each of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Eligible Applicant Categories:
Eligible Functional Categories:

An eligible applicant for an FY 2004 ELOA grant must be a Local Council designated, in writing, by a local government entity(ies)(or Indian Tribe, Alaska Regional Corporation, or Native Hawaiian entity) as the Local Council to serve one or more localities for the purpose of applying for an ELOA discretionary grant. Local government means a local unit of government, including specifically a county, municipality, city, town, township, borough, parish, select board, council of local governments (whether or not incorporated as a non-profit corporation under State law), intra-state district, a general purpose unit of local government, and any other interstate or regional or regional unit of local government. "Local government" does not mean any of the 50 States, or any agency or instrumentality of a State exclusive of local governments. To be eligible to receive an ELOA grant award, the membership of the Local Council must be composed of: (1) local agencies that will be directly affected by early learning programs assisted under ELOA and the program announcement; (2) parents; (3) other individuals concerned with early learning issues in the locality, such as representatives of entities providing elementary education, child care resource and referral services, early learning opportunities, child care, and health services; and (4) other key community leaders. Local Councils are required to submit a current needs and resource assessment, documenting the needs of the young children and families in their locality, as well as a plan that addresses the most significant needs. Nonprofit organizations submitting an application must submit proof of their nonprofit status at the time of their submission. Nonprofit organizations submitting an application must submit proof of their nonprofit status at the time of their submission. This can be accomplished by providing: 1) a copy of the applicant's listing in the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) most recent list of tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code; 2) a copy of the currently valid IRS tax exemption certificate; 3) a copy of the articles of incorporation bearing the seal of the State; 4) a statement from a State taxing body, State Attorney General, or other appropriate State official certifying that the applicant organization has a nonprofit status and that none of the net earnings accrue to any private shareholders or individuals; 5) a certified copy of the organization's certificate of incorporation or similar document that clearly establishes non-profit status; or 6) any of the items in the subparagraphs immediately above for a State or national parent organization and a statement singed by the parent organization that the applicant organization is a local non-profit affiliate.

Note:This is a brief description of the credentials or documentation required prior to, or along with, an application for assistance.

About this section:

This section indicates who can apply to the Federal government for assistance and the criteria the potential applicant must satisfy. For example, individuals may be eligible for research grants, and the criteria to be satisfied may be that they have a professional or scientific degree, 3 years of research experience, and be a citizen of the United States. Universities, medical schools, hospitals, or State and local governments may also be eligible. Where State governments are eligible, the type of State agency will be indicated (State welfare agency or State agency on aging) and the criteria that they must satisfy.

Certain federal programs (e.g., the Pell Grant program which provides grants to students) involve intermediate levels of application processing, i.e., applications are transmitted through colleges or universities that are neither the direct applicant nor the ultimate beneficiary. For these programs, the criteria that the intermediaries must satisfy are also indicated, along with intermediaries who are not eligible.

How to apply...

Application Procedure:

Applications will be submitted to Child Care Bureau or its designee as described in the Federal Register Announcement. Applications will be reviewed for conformance by Federal staff. Those applications that are in compliance with the Act and the requirements outlined in the announcement will undergo a competitive review.

Note: Each program will indicate whether applications are to be submitted to the Federal headquarters, regional or local office, or to a State or local government office.

Award Procedure:

Each of the applications will undergo an eligibility and conformance review by Federal staff at the Child Care Bureau. Applications that pass the eligibility and conformance review will be assigned to members of a review panel to review them based on the evaluation criteria listed in the application guidance. The Child Care Bureau will conduct an administrative review of the applications and the results of the competitive review panels and make recommendations for funding to the Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families. The Commissioner will make the final selection of the applications to be funded.

Note: Grant payments may be made by a letter of credit, advance by Treasury check, or reimbursement by Treasury check. Awards may be made by the headquarters office directly to the applicant, an agency field office, a regional office, or by an authorized county office. The assistance may pass through the initial applicant for further distribution by intermediate level applicants to groups or individuals in the private sector.

Deadlines and process...


Applications are generally due 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, although this may vary from 30 to 60 days.

Note: When available, this section indicates the deadlines for applications to the funding agency which will be stated in terms of the date(s) or between what dates the application should be received. When not available, applicants should contact the funding agency for deadline information.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

The time required for the application to be approved or disapproved will be approximately 120 days. Grant awards will be announced during the fourth quarter (September) of the fiscal year.

Preapplication Coordination

When the funds available for ELOA are less than $150 million in any fiscal year, the Administration for Children and Families, Child Care Bureau, will announce the availability of the funds through an announcement in the Federal Register. The Federal Register will detail the application requirements and processes. Application forms as furnished by the Child Care Bureau must be used for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Note: This section indicates whether any prior coordination or approval is required with governmental or nongovernmental units prior to the submission of a formal application to the federal funding agency.


There is no appeal for the denial of a new grant.

Note: In some cases, there are no provisions for appeal. Where applicable, this section discusses appeal procedures or allowable rework time for resubmission of applications to be processed by the funding agency. Appeal procedures vary with individual programs and are either listed in this section or applicants are referred to appeal procedures documented in the relevant Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).


None are anticipated.

Note: In some instances, renewal procedures may be the same as for the application procedure, e.g., for projects of a non-continuing nature renewals will be treated as new, competing applications; for projects of an ongoing nature, renewals may be given annually.

Who can benefit...

The purpose of this grant program is to enable Local Councils to increase, support, expand, and better coordinate early learning opportunities for children and familes through local community organizations. These funds can be used to benefit young children from birth up to the age of mandatory school attendance in their State. To meet the program goal to improve the learning readiness of young children, grant awards will be made to Local Councils that can best assess their community needs and create a plan to facilitate the development of community-based systems and collaborative service models, provide continuity of services for young children, and help parents and other caregivers promote early learning. Projects must address "enhancing early childhood literacy" and two or more of the other seven activities specified in the Act.

About this section:

This section lists the ultimate beneficiaries of a program, the criteria they must satisfy and who specifically is not eligible. The applicant and beneficiary will generally be the same for programs that provide assistance directly from a Federal agency. However, financial assistance that passes through State or local governments will have different applicants and beneficiaries since the assistance is transmitted to private sector beneficiaries who are not obligated to request or apply for the assistance.

What types of assistance...

Project Grants

The funding, for fixed or known periods, of specific projects. Project grants can include fellowships, scholarships, research grants, training grants, traineeships, experimental and demonstration grants, evaluation grants, planning grants, technical assistance grants, survey grants, and construction grants.

How much financial aid...

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$250,000 to $1,000,000; $700,000.

Note: This section lists the representative range (smallest to largest) of the amount of financial assistance available. These figures are based upon funds awarded in the past fiscal year and the current fiscal year to date. Also indicated is an approximate average amount of awards which were made in the past and current fiscal years.


FY 03 $32,505,257; FY 04 est $33,579,704; and FY 05 est $0.

Note: The dollar amounts listed in this section represent obligations for the past fiscal year (PY), estimates for the current fiscal year (CY), and estimates for the budget fiscal year (BY) as reported by the Federal agencies. Obligations for non-financial assistance programs indicate the administrative expenses involved in the operation of a program.

Account Identification


Note: Note: This 11-digit budget account identification code represents the account which funds a particular program. This code should be consistent with the code given for the program area as specified in Appendix III of the Budget of the United States Government.

Examples of funded projects...

In fiscal year 2003, ELOA grants were awarded to 43 Local Councils in 28 States, including a federally-recognized Indian Tribe and an Alaskan Native Regional Corporation. Each of the 32 grantees is addressing enhancing early childhood literacy in addition to two or more of the other seven allowable activities. Most of the projects include strategies to improve early learning through parent education, child care provider training and professional development, and better linkages among early learning programs and health care services for young children. Several grantees are working to increase the quality of child care services and programs, while others are expanding the availability of care for special populations including infants and toddlers, children with special needs, and families that require non-standard-hour care. In FY 04 we anticipate making the same number of grant awards as we did during FY 2003.

About this section

This section indicates the different types of projects which have been funded in the past. Only projects funded under Project Grants or Direct Payments for Specified Use should be listed here. The examples give potential applicants an idea of the types of projects that may be accepted for funding. The agency should list at least five examples of the most recently funded projects.

Program accomplishments...

In fiscal year 2003, 43 grants were awarded. It is estimated that in fiscal year 2004, up to 50 grants will be awarded. No awards will be made in fiscal year 2005.

Criteria for selecting proposals...

Local Council applicants will be selected competitively based on the extent to which they successfully specify goals and objectives, explain the expected results and benefits, develop an approach including a work plan, explaining their evaluation methodology, demonstrate staff and organizational capacity, including financial, and develop and justify their budget.

Assistance considerations...

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Generally, grants will be awarded annually in September. Awards to Local Councils will be made on a competitive basis for a 17-month project period (i.e., September 30, 2004 - February 28, 2006).

Formula and Matching Requirements

If the funds appropriated to carry out this program are less than $150 million for any fiscal year, the Administration for Children and Families, Child Care Bureau, shall award grants for the fiscal year directly to Local Councils, on a competitive basis, to pay the Federal share of the cost of carrying out early learning programs in the locality served by the Local Council. In any fiscal year, one percent of the total amount appropriated will be reserved to be allotted to Indian Tribes, regional corporations, and Native Hawaiian entities of which, 0.5 percent shall be available to Indian Tribes, and 0.5 percent shall be available to Regional corporations and Native Hawaiian entities. If the funds appropriated are $150 million or more, after reserving one percent for Indian Tribes, Regional Corporations, and Native Hawaiian entities, the Administration for Children and Families, Child Care Bureau, shall allot to each State the sum of: 1) An amount that bears the same ratio to 50 percent of such funds as the number of children 4 years of age and younger living in families with incomes below the poverty line in the State to the number of such children in all States; and 2) an amount that bears the same ratio to 50 percent of such funds as the number of children 4 years of age and younger living in families with incomes below the poverty line in the States bears to the number of children in all States. No State shall receive an allotment for a fiscal year that is less than 40 percent of the total amount appropriated for the fiscal year under ELOA. The Federal share of costs will be 85 percent for the first and second years of the grant, 80 percent for the third and fourth years of the grant, and 75 percent for the fifth and subsequent years of the grant.

A formula may be based on population, per capita income, and other statistical factors. Applicants are informed whether there are any matching requirements to be met when participating in the cost of a project. In general, the matching share represents that portion of the project costs not borne by the Federal government. Attachment F of OMB Circular No. A-102 (Office of Management and Budget) sets forth the criteria and procedures for the evaluation of matching share requirements which may be cash or in-kind contributions made by State and local governments or other agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals to satisfy matching requirements of Federal grants or loans.

Cash contributions represent the grantees' cash outlay, including the outlay of money contributed to the grantee by other public agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals. When authorized by Federal regulation, Federal funds received from other grants may be considered as the grantees' cash contribution.

In-kind contributions represent the value of noncash contributions provided by the grantee, other public agencies and institutions, private organizations or individuals. In-kind contributions may consist of charges for real property and equipment, and value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable to the grant program. When authorized by Federal legislation, property purchased with Federal funds may be considered as grantees' in-kind contribution.

Maintenance of effort (MOE) is a requirement contained in certain legislation, regulations, or administrative policies stating that a grantee must maintain a specified level of financial effort in a specific area in order to receive Federal grant funds, and that the Federal grant funds may be used only to supplement, not supplant, the level of grantee funds.

Post assistance requirements...


Semi-annual financial reports, semi-annual progress reports, final financial and final summary progress reports, and audits.

Note: This section indicates whether program reports, expenditure reports, cash reports or performance monitoring are required by the Federal funding agency, and specifies at what time intervals (monthly, annually, etc.) this must be accomplished.


Audits will be conducted in accordance with guidelines established in the revised OMB Circular No. A-123, "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," and implemented in 7 CFR Part 3052. In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 24, 1997), Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations, nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $300,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $300,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular A-133. Additional audits may be necessary.

Note: This section discusses audits required by the Federal agency. The procedures and requirements for State and local governments and nonprofit entities are set forth in OMB Circular No. A-133. These requirements pertain to awards made within the respective State's fiscal year - not the Federal fiscal year, as some State and local governments may use the calendar year or other variation of time span designated as the fiscal year period, rather than that commonly known as the Federal fiscal year (from October 1st through September 30th).


Grantees must maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for the purpose the grant was made. All matching contributions must be verifiable in the grantee organization's records. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and for three years thereafter.

Note: This section indicates the record retention requirements and the type of records the Federal agency may require. Not included are the normally imposed requirements of the General Accounting Office. For programs falling under the purview of OMB Circular No. A-102, record retention is set forth in Attachment C. For other programs, record retention is governed by the funding agency's requirements.



Public Law 106-554; Early Learning Opportunities Act of 2001, Title VIII, Section 801.

Note: This section lists the legal authority upon which a program is based (acts, amendments to acts, Public Law numbers, titles, sections, Statute Codes, citations to the U.S. Code, Executive Orders, Presidential Reorganization Plans, and Memoranda from an agency head).

Regulations, Guidelines, And Literature

45 CFR Parts 74 and 92.

Contact information...

Web Sites
Regional Or Local Office

Regional Administrator, Administration for Children and Families. (See Additional Contact Information - FMR Help for list of addresses of Regional Offices.)

Note: This section lists the agency contact person, address and telephone number of the Federal Regional or Local Office(s) to be contacted for detailed information regarding a program such as: (1) current availability of funds and the likelihood of receiving assistance within a given period; (2) pre-application and application forms required; (3) whether a pre-application conference is recommended; (4) assistance available in preparation of applications; (5) whether funding decisions are made at the headquarters, regional or local level; (6) application renewal procedures (including continuations and supplementals) or appeal procedures for rejected applications; and (7) recently published program guidelines and material. However, for most federal programs, this section will instruct the reader to consult the so-called Appendix IV of the Catalog due to the large volume of Regional and Local Office Contacts for most agencies. This information is provided in Additional Contact Information (see below).

Headquarters Office

Child Care Bureau, 330 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20447. Telephone: (202) 690-6243.

Note: This section lists names and addresses of the office at the headquarters level with direct operational responsibility for managing a program. A telephone number is provided in cases where a Regional or Local Office is not normally able to answer detailed inquiries concerning a program. Also listed are the name(s) and telephone number(s) of the information contact person(s) who can provide additional program information to applicants.

Additional Contact Information (Appendix IV)

Due to the large volume of regional and local office contacts for most agencies, full contact information is also provided separately here in a PDF format: