§ 42-12-26. Expansion and enhancement of early education and care for low-income children.
(a) The general assembly shall annually appropriate such funds as it deems necessary to enable the department of human services to establish a program whose express purposes are:
(i) To increase the numbers of eligible children in existing Head Start program, especially in underserved areas; and
(ii) To increase resources to child care providers for the enhancement of services to low income children. Enhancement of services shall include social services, health, mental health, nutrition service, parent involvement and transition services for children entering kindergarten.
(b) The director of the department of human services is further authorized to request such appropriation for each state fiscal year as he or she deems necessary to carry out the programs and purposes of this section.
(c) A panel comprised of the members of the children's cabinet and five (5) members of the public, to be chosen by the chairperson of the children's cabinet, shall be responsible for determining how the funds prescribed in this section shall be allocated; and shall by May 1, 1999 establish the methodology of enhancing comprehensive services in child care programs serving low income children and establish the numbers of additional Head Start slots in underserved areas to be funded; provided, however, that priority shall be given in the allocation of funds to applicants who serve children in underserved communities; who integrate children with special needs; who collaborate with existing early education and care programs and other existing services including child opportunity zone family centers, schools and agencies providing health, mental health, nutrition and social services; and who address the child care needs of the families to be served.
(P.L. 1998, ch. 31, art. 11, § 6.)