Gold Star

Making pre-kindergarten work for low-income working families

A growing number of state leaders believe that it is essential to expand high-quality early learning and development opportunities for all young children before they reach kindergarten. A key component of this strategy is providing access to voluntary, high-quality prekindergarten programs, especially for low-income children. As of 2006, 38 states and the District of Columbia had one or more programs meeting the definition of pre-kindergarten used by the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER). In the 2005-2006 school year, states reported spending about $3.27 billion in state and federal funds on prekindergarten initiatives. These initiatives vary considerably in their design, quality standards, and number of children served. Across the country, state pre-kindergarten programs serve 20 percent of four year-olds and fewer three-year olds; most children served are concentrated in just a few states. Over the last few years, a number of governors have announced their intention to expand pre-kindergarten. Yet for states to improve the chances of children who might otherwise start school at a disadvantage, pre-kindergarten programs must be designed with their families in mind.


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Author(s)Rachel Schumacher, Katie Hamm, Danielle Ewen
SubmitterAriana Sani

Filed under:

Policy Briefs, National Context, National Studies