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Divisions > Early Childhood Development

3 kids painting at a table with their teacher

Division of Early Childhood Development

The Division of Early Childhood Development at the Maryland State Department of Education is responsible for early care and education in Maryland.  The main mission of the Division is to improve early education in Maryland so that young children are well prepared for school. The Division is composed of the Office of Child Care, the Early Learning Branch, and the Collaboration and Program Improvement Branch.

The Office of Child Care comprises the:

·          Licensing Branch, which licenses and monitors child care centers and family child care providers,

·          Credentialing Branch, which administers the Maryland Child Care Credential Program, the Early Childhood Accreditation Project, and the Child Care Accreditation Support Fund, and

·          Child Care Subsidy Branch (formerly Purchase of Care, or "POC"), which regulates and administers Maryland's child care subsidy voucher system for TANF and income-eligible families.


·          NEW!   Maryland EXCELS Branch, which administers Maryland's voluntary Quality Rating Improvement System for child care centers, family child care homes, and public pre-kindergarten programs.

The Early Learning Branch is responsible for the Judith P. Hoyer Programs (also known as Judy Centers), the Maryland Model for School Readiness (MMSR), Public Pre-K and Kindergarten, and the Early Childhood Curriculum Project, as well as curriculum development and policy and programmatic issues related to prekindergarten and kindergarten.

The Collaboration and Program Improvement Branch issues and administers early care contracts and grants, including the Family Child Care Provider Grant and the Quality Improvement Grant. It also houses the:

  • Head Start State Collaboration Project, which coordinates early learning and comprehensive services between local Head Start programs and state and local agencies based on the Head Start Assessment Report and Strategic Plan 2012-2013.  Direct services, including eligibility enrollment, are handled by local Head Start programs.
  •  Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Project, which helps identify and address child behavioral issues in early learning environments, and
  • Contract management of the Maryland Child Care Resource and Referral Network in the Maryland Family Network. The Network provides child care information and referral services and professional development for early care and education providers at http://marylandfamilynetwork.org.
  • State ECAC and the RTT-ELC grant – Project 1 Local Early Childhood Advisory Councils (LECAC). Click on Strategic Planning link for additional information.


Sign up for the MSDE Division of Early Childhood email list to receive the latest news and updates on child care, school readiness, early learning grants and related activities. Click on GovDelivery Email Updates, and after you enter your email address, select EARLY CHILDHOOD from the list and subscribe.


Visit the following topic portal pages to access a wide range of information related to DECD activities and early care and education in Maryland:  

·          Early Care and Education Program Lists portal – Current lists of licensed child care programs, nonpublic nursery schools with MSDE-approved education programs, accredited early care programs, and public pre-K sites.


·          Announcements portal – News and updates on issues concerning early care and education in Maryland, including the Race To the Top - Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant.

·          Strategic Planning portal – Planning documents that guide DECD operations and initiatives.


·          Publications and Reports portal – MSDE/DECD reports, studies, and other publications concerning early care and education topics, including statistical reports and the Partners newsletter.


·          School Readiness portal – School readiness assessments and initiatives to promote school readiness.


·          Child Health and Safety portal – Issues related to child health and safety in early care settings, including child care licensing inspection findings.


·          Community Resources portal – Community-based early care and education resources for families with young children.


·          Grant Funding Opportunities portal – Notice of funding opportunities for the expansion or enhancement of services related to early care and education.


·          Helpful Internet Links – These connect to a variety of sites that provide a wide range of early care and education-related information of particular interest to early care professionals and parents.




Have questions or need more information about the Division of Early Childhood

Development?   Please call us at 1-877-605-1539.


 Division of Early Childhood Development
Office of Child Care
Licensing Branch
Credentialing Branch
Child Care Subsidy Branch
Maryland EXCELS Branch
Early Learning Branch
Collaboration and Program Improvement Branch
 Topic Portals
Strategic Planning
Publications and Reports
School Readiness
Child Health and Safety
Community Resources
Grant Funding Opportunities
Early Care and Education Program Lists
Helpful Internet Links
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