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About Early Learning

The mission of the Division of Early Learning (DEL) is to provide leadership and coordination to ensure that all District of Columbia children, from birth to kindergarten entrance, have access to high quality early childhood development programs and are well prepared for school.

Quality Program Improvement Unit

The Quality Program Improvement Unit focuses on ensuring compliance with all early childhood development programs through training and technical assistance, program quality assurance and evaluation. The Unit consists of Program Monitoring and Professional Development for child development facilities that serve children receiving a child care subsidy.

Licensing and Compliance Unit

The Licensing and Compliance Unit is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of children in child care through the enforcement of federal and District of Columbia laws and regulations in child development facilities. The unit ensures compliance with child care licensing regulations and monitoring and enforcement systems that provide the foundation for the protection of children in child care settings. The Unit has two (2) components: Licensing of Centers and Homes and Investigations of Complaints and Unusual Incidents. Learn More.

Operation and Grants Management Unit

The Operation and Management Unit provides financial and grants management support to all DEL programs. The major functions are, but not limited to, budget preparation and analysis, grants management, contracts and procurement, invoice reimbursement, program analysis, eligibility determination and monitoring, and financial reporting. The Operations and Management Unit assists the DEL in maintaining program integrity across fiscal and policy matters through the implementation and application of internal controls, monitoring, and approval of policies and procedures. View Open Funding Opportunities.   

Head Start State Collaboration Office

The Head Start Collaboration Office (HSCO) exists to “facilitate collaboration among Head Start agencies and entities which carry out activities designed to benefit low income children from birth to school entry, and their families.” (Head Start Act Section 642(B(a)(2)(A)) The HSCO works to promote better linkages and policy alignment between Head Start agencies and other child and family agencies, including agencies that provide health, mental health, family services and other child and family supportive services, such as services provided under section 619 and Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The Office of Head Start has prioritized the work of the HSCO to guide its works. The five priorities include:  

  1. Partner with State child care systems emphasizing the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership Initiative
  2. Work with State efforts to collect data regarding early childhood programs and child outcomes
  3. Support the expansion and access of high quality, workforce and career development opportunities for staff
  4. Collaboration with State Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS).
  5. Work with State school systems to ensure continuity between Head Start and Kindergarten Entrance Assessments (KEA). Learn More

Early Intervention Program (Strong Start)

Strong Start is the District of Columbia's Early Intervention Program (DCEIP).  Strong Start DCEIP serves as the single point of entry for infants and toddlers in the District whose families have concerns about their child's development. The program provides coordinated early intervention services and supports for families with infants and toddlers who have been diagnosed with developmental delays or disabilities. Learn More.

Professional Development

The Professional Development Unit (PDU) designs and implements the state professional development system to ensure that those who care for and teach young children have the skills and techniques needed to provide quality services. PDU identifies aligned standards, quality resources and career pathways that support the professional growth of the workforce. Learn More.

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