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Universal preschool: Much to gain but who will pay

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Scrivner, Scott and Wolfe, Barbara
Publication Date: 
1 Oct 2002

Available in print for order (see SOURCE) and online for download.

Excerpt from full report:

Among experts in child development and early education, there seems to be increasing agreement that three-and-four-year-olds gain from being in a stimulating environment with other children. This paper begins with the assumption that this premise is correct: children across the full spectrum of family income, family composition, and prior experience with child care would gain from being in a well-implemented preschool at ages three and four. Our focus is on finding a feasible way to finance universal preschool. As such, our target is the financing of universal preschool for children of age four. If successful, such a plan could eventually be extended to three-year-olds.

We begin with a brief discussion of the relationship between preschool, preschool quality and developmental outcomes. We then provide background on the current situation in the United States, followed by a detailed consideration of state-financed pre-kindergarten programs (Pre-K). We follow by describing early childhood education (ECE) programs in other industrialized countries. We then focus on possible financing approaches, first focusing on a variety of proposals designed to improve access to and quality of ECE in the U.S. Finally, we present our proposal for financing universal preschool for four-year- year olds in the United States.