State-Funded Pre-Kindergarten

Currently, 42 states and the District of Columbia offer state-funded prekindergarten. Nationally, nearly 5 percent of 3-year olds and 29 percent of 4-year olds are enrolled in state-funded prekindergarten programs (serving about 1.4 million children).  preschool boy green shirtMost state-funded preschool initiatives are designed to operate as mixed delivery systems, in which high-quality community child care programs participate along with school-based programs. For additional information on state funded preschool, see the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) report, “the State of Preschool 2015.”  State profiles are located here.

Preschool Development and Expansion Grants:

In FY2015, Congress appropriated $250 million for Preschool Development Grants. The U.S. Department of Education awarded 18 one-time grants to states to support the development or expansion of high-quality preschool programs in regionally diverse communities as determined by the state. Preschool programs funded under either category of grants were required to meet  criteria for high-quality preschool programs.

For a brief summary of Preschool Development and Expansion Grant states, click here.  For a brief summary of the 5 Preschool Development Grant initiatives, click here.  To review all grant applications and reviewer comments, click here.

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law (P.L. 114-95).  Section 9212 of the Every Student Succeeds Act includes a new Preschool Development Grant Program.  The new PDG program is designed to:

  • assist states to develop, update or implement a strategic plan to improve collaboration and coordination among existing early learning programs in a mixed delivery system across the state to prepare low income children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed,
  • encourage partnerships among Head Start providers, state and local governments, private entities (including faith and community based organizations), and local educational agencies, to improve coordination, program quality, and the delivery of services, and
  • maximize parent choice among a mixed delivery system of early childhood education program providers.

The emphasis is on coordination of existing programs. An existing program is defined as “operating in the state before the date of art projectenactment of this act,” or “began operating in the state at any time on or after the date of enactment of this act through funds that were not provided by a grant under this section.”  The Secretary of HHS is in charge of the program to be operated jointly with the Secretary of the Department of Education. Grants are to be awarded on a competitive basis. Grants are for not more than 1 year and may be renewed (but are limited to 3 years in total). Each state shall provide at least 30% in matching funds (from non-federal sources).


Text of the Preschool Development Grant section under ESSA 

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Summary of the ESSA conference report

ESSA bill text (P.L. 114-95)

ECEC Comments to the Department of Education on the Preschool Development Grant InitiativeFebruary 2014

ECEC Case Studies of Exemplary Pre-K Public Private Partnership Profiles

The first case study highlights FirstStepNYC, the only community, center prekindergarten program participating in New York City’s Pre-K for All initiative that is co-located with its neighborhood school. It also houses the Early Education Leadership Institute operated in partnership with the City University of New York’s Early Childhood Professional Development Institute and Bank Street College of Education.

The second case study examines an inclusion model partnership between North St Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale School District (District 622) in Minneapolis, MN and the New Horizon Academy’s Maplewood Center. We are especially excited to see our second pre-k profile coincide with the release of the joint ED- HHS Policy Statement on Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs.  Many of the recommended best practices noted in the Policy Statement are demonstrated by this partnership.