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All together now: State experiences in using community-based child care to provide pre-kindergarten

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Paper Prepared for The Brookings Institution & University of North Carolina Conference on "Creating a National Plan for the Education of 4-Year-Olds", Washington, DC. September 9-10, 2004
Schumacher, Rachel; Ewen, Danielle; Hart, Katherine & Lomardi, Joan
Publication Date: 
1 May 2005

Excerpts from the report:

In delivering their pre-kindergarten programs, states are taking one of two principal approaches. States are choosing to:

- Offer pre-kindergarten programs exclusively in public schools.
A handful of states limit delivery of all state-funded pre-kindergarten initiatives, either directly or by subcontract, to the public schools.5 Community-based providers might be used to provide extended-day services, but this is not part of the funding design of the pre-kindergarten program.

- Offer pre-kindergarten programs in schools and other settings, including community-based child care.
The vast majority of states with a program are delivering pre-kindergarten in a mixed delivery model that includes schools and community-based settings, which may include privately operated child care and federally funded Head Start providers, among others. States may contract directly with these providers or may allow schools to subcontract with them to provide the pre-kindergarten program.

This paper studies the emergence of the mixed delivery model, in which prekindergarten is delivered in community-based settings and schools. We focused our research specifically on the policies associated with implementing pre-kindergarten programs in community-based child care settings, as opposed to Head Start programs, community colleges, and other types of programs. As noted above, the majority of states implementing pre-kindergarten programs have opted for some version of mixed delivery.

Moreover, the emergence of this model is significant to the future of early childhood education because it has the potential to:

1) break the traditional barrier between early education and child care policies and address the needs of children in working families in a coordinated way;

2) strengthen the quality of community-based child care programs. However, whether the promise is actually met depends on the policy choices made by states and the ways in which these choices are implemented.