Pre-Kindergarten Policy — Alliance for Early Childhood Finance

Pre-Kindergarten Policy

The first national study of public schools and prekindergarten was conducted in the late 1980s by Mitchell and others at Bank Street College of Education and the Wellesley College Centers for Research. States began to support prekindergarten programs in the early 1900s. The pace of expansion increased with the advent of Head Start in the late 1960s; program expansion and financial investment grew rapidly in the 21st century. The increasing willingness of the public to fund Pre-K is a positive trend that can help build a robust and well-financed EC&E system. For the most recent data on the status of Pre-K programs in the states, see NIEER. A new trend is cities investing in their own Pre-K programs (e.g., Denver, San Francisco, San Antonio, Cleveland, New York City, Seattle and others).

Impact of Universal Pre-Kindergarten on Community Child Care Providers in Fort Worth Independent School District (2014). This report, commissioned by Camp Fire First Texas and completed by the Center for Nonprofit Management, explores the unintended consequences of free public preK on market based early care and education providers.

The State with Two Prekindergarten Programs: A Look at Prekindergarten Education in New York (1928-2003) New York is unique among the many states with state-funded preschool: it has two contrasting, yet successful programs. Experimental Prekindergarten Program (EPK) began in 1966 with only a few thousand students. Developed primarily for disadvantaged children, EPK has developed slowly. The state’s Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) began in 1997 and was implemented quickly and on a large scale.  In this paper Anne Mitchell provides a history of the two programs, illuminating the factors leading to the establishment of each and how they have grown closer in recent years. She analyzes the status of the two prekindergarten programs for the 2002-2003 school year, and how both are administered within the same school district. In 2008, EPK was merged into UPK.

The Status of Preschool Policy in the States (December, 2001) This paper, co-authored by Helen Blank and Anne Mitchell, defines prekindergarten programs, categorizes states’ prekindergarten policies and programs, and describe the history and current status of prekindergarten in the United States at the end of 2001. Issues such as teacher qualifications, program standards, curriculum, spending and enrollment growth, access for children of working families, and the move to universal preschool are explored. Appendixes include helpful charts of funding by state for both preschool and Head Start and brief descriptions of each state’s program.

Prekindergarten Programs in the States: Trends and Issues (July 2001) This report, by Anne Mitchell, 
offers a brief update on states’ prekindergarten policies and current funding levels and discusses 30 year trends and issues surrounding the growth of prekindergarten, such as the role of community-based programs, quality concerns, working families’ needs and ‘universal’ preschool.

The Role of States And The Federal Government In Promoting Prekindergarten and Kindergarten (April 2001) This paper, part of the Working Papers series from the Foundation for Child Development, describes the research rationale for early childhood education, provides data on prekindergarten (i.e., preschool, child care, and Head Start) and kindergarten programs and policy, and describes what states and the federal government can do to create an early education system.

Prekindergarten Programs Funded by the States: Essential Elements for Policymakers (1998). This paper provides information on 39 state-funded prekindergarten programs. Descriptive tables of each state’s program(s) are included, designed to assist decisionmakers and advocates understand the range of prekindergarten program options. Each description includes a discussion of program history, eligibility and access, funding levels, administrative auspices, delivery systems, quality standards, staff qualifications, community planning procedures, program performance assessment strategies and evaluation. The introduction provides a brief analysis across states illustrated by several comparison tables. Report was released in September 1998 by the Families and Work Institute.

A Framework for a Coherent Early Care and Education System By Teresa Vast. This essay is adapted from “Financing Strategies to Support a Coherent Early Care and Education System” and particularly focuses on the development of an early childhood system framework with both local and state components. A sketch of such a system can also be found in the essay.