The Early Learning Collaborative Act established state pre-K programs, known as “Early Learning Collaboratives,” or ELCs. All collaboratives are overseen by the Mississippi Department of Education, even though individual providers may also have other oversight agencies.
History of the Law
In 2012, Mississippi First published two major reports on pre-K, the Title I Preliminary Report that described how school districts were using Title I dollars to provide pre-K in public schools and Leaving Last in Line that recommended a “collaborative delivery model” for state-funded pre-K. A “collaborative delivery model” brings all types of providers—public schools, private childcare, and Head Start—to the table, if they agree to meet high standards.
In 2013, we worked with Senator Brice Wiggins and then-Representative Toby Bark to pass the Early Learning Collaborative Act, which we wrote to reflect Leaving Last in Line. Passing both the House and the Senate with over 80% of the vote, the pre-K law was the most popular education effort in many years. That year, the legislature appropriated $3 million for the program, the first-ever state investment in pre-K.
Since then, the legislature has increased its commitment to the program four times—to $4 million in 2016, then to $6.5 million in 2018, to nearly $6.7 million in 2019, and now $16 million in 2021.
In December 2013, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) selected 11 communities from across the state for the first round of Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs). With each legislative funding increase, the number of impacted communities has grown. During the 2021-2022 school year, 16% of Mississippi four-year-olds (roughly 6,080 children) will have access to an ELC seat.
Understanding the Law
Collaboratives have several unique features. The list below briefly describes the most important features differentiating ELCs from other Mississippi pre-K programs:
To learn more, we encourage you to read the legislation and view a video of its passage in the Senate through Legislative History Project at MC Law: Video of Senate Bill Passage. You can also read our How to Start a Collaborative Toolkit.