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Maryland gets $15 million grant to expand early education

Maryland will be able to provide 3,000 more preschool slots for low-income 4-year-olds with a $15 million federal grant awarded this week.

The U.S. Department of Education announced grants of $226 million to 18 states to expand or develop early education programs as part of more than $1 billion in new federal and private-sector investments in early education.

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The O'Malley administration already expanded its full and part-time pre-kindergarten slots this year, providing $4.3 million for 1,563 children. The federal government grant will be given every year for the next four years for up to $60 million in total, if Congress approves it in subsequent years.

Rolf Grafwallner, who heads early education programs for the state, said there is a particular need for places for the children of low- to moderate-income families who make too much to qualify for Head Start but too little to afford the $8,000 to $10,000 they would have to spend to get their child a spot in a high-quality preschool. The new grant will allow the state to give a slot to a family of three with an income of up to $40,000, he said.

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Parents who want to take advantage of the new funds will apply to a public school with prekindergarten or to a private, accredited program that has a high-quality rating.

The new pre-K places will be available to families beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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