Preschool for All

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Chart representing the continuum of early care resources during each stage of development from birth to age 5.The President’s proposal will improve quality and expand access to preschool for all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds from families at or below 200% of poverty. Through a cost sharing partnership with all 50 states, the U.S. Department of Education will distributed funds to local school districts and other partner providers to implement the program. The proposal would include an incentive for states to broaden participation in their public preschool program to additional middle-class families, which states may choose to reach and serve in a variety of ways, such as a sliding-scale arrangement.

Funds will support states as they ensure that children are enrolled in high-quality programs. In order to access federal funding, states would be required to meet quality benchmarks that are linked to better outcomes for children, which include:

  • State-level standards for early learning
  • Qualified teachers for all preschool classrooms
  • A plan to implement comprehensive data and assessment systems

Preschool programs across the states would meet common and consistent standards for quality across all programs, including:

  • Well-trained teachers, who are paid comparably to K-12 staff
  • Small class sizes and low adult to child ratios
  • A rigorous curriculum
  • Comprehensive health and related services
  • Effective evaluation and review of programs

The proposal also encourages states to expand the availability of full-day kindergarten. Only 6 out of 10 of America’s kindergarten students have access to a full day of learning. In order to ensure that our kindergartners spend the time they need in school to reach rigorous benchmarks and standards, funds under this program may also be used to expand full-day kindergarten once states have provided preschool education to four-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.

Under the President’s proposal, investment in the federal Head Start program will continue to grow. The President’s plan will maintain and build on current Head Start investments, to support a greater share of infants, toddlers, and three-year-olds in America’s Head Start centers, while state preschool settings will serve a greater share of four-year-olds.