The ASPIRE program is designed to make it easier for qualified* family child care (FCC) providers across Maryland to participate in Maryland's publicly funded PreK program. We believe a FCC home is a GREAT place for three and four-year-olds to get ready for kindergarten. (*You have a four-year degree and certification by the state to teach PreK, or you have a four-year degree and are willing to take additional steps to become certified.)
Whether you apply by yourself or join the ASPIRE program, FCC providers in Maryland's PreK program during the 2023-24 school year will earn $13,000 for each eligible child in your program. That's for just 6.5 hours a day for nine months. Any before or after care, summer care, etc., is extra revenue for you, whether paid by the parents or the scholarship program. And that $13,000 per child is set to increase to over $19,000 by 2031.
While qualified providers can apply to join the Maryland PreK program independently, we have a better idea. ASPIRE is a program designed to help you save time, meet MSDE PreK standards, save you money, and give you the support to help you succeed. Here are just some of the benefits of joining ASPIRE:
We save you time and headaches. The 2022-23 PreK grant application was nearly twenty pages long. It can take days or longer to complete because of all the planning needed to successfully complete the grant. Once you win the grant, there are monthly invoices in complex EXCEL spreadsheets to complete, along with three child census reports, a mid-year year report, and an end-of-year report. That's in addition to regular meetings with your local school district. By joining the ASPIRE program, you don't have to do any of that! The ASPIRE team handles all the grant management services, and you have more time for teaching and family.
Coaching for High-Quality PreK Instruction: A new PreK teacher in a MD public school by law gets three years or more of coaching and other supports to help them deliver high-quality PreK instruction as defined by MSDE. As an individual provider applying for the PreK expansion grant, you don't get that. Unlike the MD scholarship program, with the PreK program, there are twice-yearly observations of your program and your teaching by MSDE observers. If you don't pass, you could be dropped from the program. The ASPIRE program assigns you a coach to help you achieve your goals with regard to a high-quality PreK program. So far in the 2022-23 school year, ALL of our providers have passed their reviews! You can too, with ASPIRE. Your coach will work with you from one to two hours a week, either through onsite visits or virtually. The two of you will figure out where you are on your learning curve and then help you move to become a high-quality PreK program.
It's Free: All the services we provide you are free of charge. The grant management, coaching, curriculum, supplies, and more all come provided by MSDE and the ASPIRE program. You pay nothing to participate.
A Support Network, Just for You: As a member of the ASPIRE program, you'll be in a program with other professional FCC providers. Your peers are just like you, and they want to constantly improve their program for their children and their own sense of pride. Beyond that, the ASPIRE team is here to connect you with other resources in your area that are available to you and your families. Finally, we represent you at meetings, whether with the local school district or with the state legislature. We are constantly working to make it easier for FCC providers to be part of Maryland's PreK program.
Thank you for your interest in the ASPIRE program! Our Fall 2023 class is now full. But you can still apply and if you qualify, you can be placed on our waiting list in case someone changes their mind and drops out of the program. In addition, you'll be among the first to know when we start recruiting for the class of Fall 2024!