In the last decade, growing numbers of public school districts have started using federal Title I dollars to provide four-year-old pre-K. In the 2009-2010 school year, more than 11% of Mississippi’s four-year-olds were enrolled in public pre-K; most of these children were regular education children in Title I-funded programs.

In 2013, Missisisppi passed its first pre-K law, the Early Learning Collaborative Act. In December 2013, the first round of the Early Learning Collaborative awards were given to 11 different collaboratives from around the state. The purpose of the Early Learning Collaborative award is to provide funding to Early Learning Collaborative Councils to support and facilitate the implementation of voluntary pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) programs as specified in the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013.

The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013

The Early Collaborative Act of 2013 provides funding to local communities to establish, expand, and support successful early childhood education and development services. In 2013, the legislature appropriated $3M for the Early Learning Collaborative Act, making it the first-ever state-funded pre-K program in Mississippi. The new pre-K law was based on the work of Mississippi First outlined in Leaving Last in Line.

The Early Learning Collaborative Act was introduced by Sen. Brice Wiggins during the 2013 Legislative Session. This bill, along with a similar House version introduced by Rep. Toby Barker, established a “collaborative delivery model” for a state-funded pre-K program. Although there have been numerous attempts to pass pre-K legislation over the years, the 2013 effort received a major boost through bipartisan legislative support, along with endorsements from the Speaker, Lt. Governor, and Governor.

The most significant point of contention between the House and the Senate involved requirements for private childcare centers to participate in local preK collaboratives. The Senate required centers to earn a 3-star rating on the Quality Stars rating system. In the conference report, which was passed by both chambers, centers would have until 2016 to choose from a list of MDE-approved classroom quality measures. The Legislature also appropriated $3 million for the program. Though well-short of the $8 million sought by the law, this marks the first-ever state investment in pre-K. The bill was signed by the Governor on April 18 and went into effect on July 1. Read the legislation. In 2016, the Legislature approved $4 million for the Early Learning Collaboratives.

Legislative History Project (MC Law): Video of Senate Bill Passage

Implementation of the Law

Today, there are 14 state-funded early learning collaboratives spread out across Mississippi.

2017-2018 MDE-Approved Collaboratives


Lead Partner

Contact Person

Monroe Early Learning Collaborative  Calvert’s ABC Preschool and Nursery

Heather Walker

Clarke County Early Learning Partnership

Quitman School District

Lacia Donald

Coahoma County Pre-K Collaborative

Clarksdale Municipal School District

Toya Matthews

McComb Community Collaborative for Early Learning Success

McComb School District

Betty Wilson-McSwain

Pearl River Valley Opportunity Headstart

Lamar County School District

John Hales

Petal Early Learning Collaborative

Petal School District

DeDe Smith

Picayune School District Early Learning Collaborative

Picayune School District

Pam Thomas

Sunflower County Early Learning Collaborative

Sunflower Consolidated School District

Leigh Ann Reynolds

Tallahatchie Early Learning Alliance Rock River Foundation

Meghan Tooke

Corinth-Alcorn-Prentiss Early Learning Collaborative

Corinth School District

Tanya Nelson

 Additional Service Providers for 4-year-old Children

Research, Technical Assistance, Government, or Regulatory Organizations