Help Children Succeed with Pre-K For Every Child

About half of America’s 3- to 4-year-olds are not enrolled in pre-kindergarten. Making high-quality preschool education available to all young children improves education outcomes and graduation rates, while also alleviating the financial burden families with young children face. The Pre-Kindergarten For Every Child Act leverages federal and other funding opportunities to help ensure that all young children can access high-quality pre-kindergarten education.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Who does this help?
This policy helps all families by providing children the resources and support that they need to be successful in school while reducing high care costs. This policy would also benefit everyone because pre-kindergarten contributes to increased graduation rates, improved academic outcomes, and decreased crime — reducing costs on social services and criminal justice, and also boosting future earnings and contributions to the economy.
Is this high cost for the state?
No. Every dollar invested in a pre-kindergarten program has a return on investment of 7-10% per year. Studies also show that making high-quality pre-kindergarten education available to all families produces a net benefit of $83.3 billion annually by reducing grade retention, need for special education, increasing high school graduation, and boosting future earnings. States may also have the ability to fund this program through federal funding through ESSER and other federal funding opportunities.
Does this policy really work?
Yes. Children who attend high quality pre-k programs have better early literacy and math outcomes, are less likely to be placed in special education, have higher graduation rates, and are less likely to commit crimes.
  • Parents
  • Teachers, educators, and child care providers
  • Early childhood advocates
  • Public health experts
  • Special interests opposed to increasing public education programs
Model Policy
This act shall be known as the [STATE] Pre-Kindergarten Act For Every Child
This policy ensures that all 3- and 4-year-olds in [STATE] can access high-quality pre-kindergarten education.

a) It is the goal of [STATE] that every three and four year-old child be offered a high quality pre-kindergarten learning opportunity in the form of an early childhood development and education program which shall be voluntary, high quality, free, and delivered according to professionally accepted standards.

b) An early childhood development and education program means an organized program designed to address and enhance each child’s ability to make age appropriate progress in an appropriate range of settings in the development of language and cognitive capabilities and emotional, social, regulatory and moral capacities through education in basic skills and such other skills as the Legislature may determine to be appropriate.

c) Accordingly, within 90 days of enactment of this section, DEPARTMENT is directed to issue guidance and best practices for the delivery of high quality pre-kindergarten, including identifying mechanisms to expand high quality pre-kindergarten programs across STATE through state and federal funding. DEPARTMENT is directed to use DEPARTMENT and STATE Office of Management and Budget assessment to identify a sustainable funding stream and implementation timeline for the provision of the program. 

d) There is created in the DEPARTMENT the STATE High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Program for the STATE to offer grants to localities and districts in STATE to establish high quality pre-kindergarten programs that meet these benchmarks. DEPARTMENT shall award grants across all geographic regions of STATE and shall prioritize localities and districts prioritizing students in low-income, rural, and other regions where access to high quality preschool is more limited.

i) A locality or district awarded a grant shall use the grant money to implement a high quality pre-kindergarten program that is substantially consistent with the locality’s or district’s program plan submitted to the DEPARTMENT. To receive a grant under this program, a locality’s or district’s program plan should address elements of high-quality pre-kindergarten, including:

1) Comprehensive early learning and development standards that are horizontally and vertically aligned, supported, and culturally sensitive

2) Lead teachers have obtained an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or higher degree level with specialized postsecondary training in early childhood education

3) All teachers have received specialized training in early childhood education and child development or equivalent pre-kindergarten education

4) Assistant teachers have received Child Development Associate (CDA) preschool credential or equivalent

5) Basing all instruction and professional development on state pre-K learning standards

6) Additional support for children whose primary language is not English

7) All teachers have received at least 15 hours per year of professional learning

8) Classroom ratios of 20 children to two adults (typically a lead teacher and a teaching assistant) with maximum staff-child ratio of 1:10

9) Vision, hearing, and health screenings for children, and at least one support service

10) Use of STATE DEPARTMENT quality-assurance infrastructure for coaches, evaluation and research

11) At least one meal per day


i) On or before reporting deadlines established by the DEPARTMENT, in each year in which localities and districts receive a grant pursuant to the program, the localities and districts shall submit a report to the DEPARTMENT that includes the information required by the DEPARTMENT.

ii) At a minimum, the report must include the following information:

1) The number of students who participated in the high quality pre-kindergarten program and non-identifying information, including demographic information, relating to those students;

2) Any adjustments made to the localities’ and districts’ program plan and the reason adjustments were made;

3) How the localities and districts maintained consistent access for participating students to core and non-core-academic instruction;

4) How program grants were used by the localities and districts and a summary of other resources used, if any, to provide high quality pre-kindergarten beyond the resources provided through the program;

5) The impact or student outcomes associated with localities and districts’ high quality pre-kindergarten program; and

6) Whether the program will continue in the following fiscal year and, if not, the reason the program will not continue.

iii) Within two years of enactment of this section, and every two years thereafter, DEPARTMENT is to submit a report to the Governor and Legislature that report on progress made under the grant program and assessment of additional ways STATE can expand access to high quality pre-kindergarten programs.

1) The report shall:

(a) Detail the grants awarded, the localities and districts, the duration of the program, and a summary of the information provided pursuant to subsection (1) of this section concerning the programs implemented by the localities and districts and of available student outcomes.

(b) Highlight high-performing schools and districts, including those that have improved student learning using high quality pre-kindergarten;

(c) Provide descriptions and analysis of practices that contributed to the improvements described in (b) above;

(d) Detail plans for expansion of existing high quality pre-kindergarten programs, alongside proposed applications for federal, state, local, and foundation grant funding and social impact bonds; and

(e) Highlight any other programs the DEPARTMENT identifies that would result in an efficient expansion of high quality pre-kindergarten in STATE. The plan should target expansion of programs by at least 20% per year.

(2) To inform development of the report, localities or districts may submit to the DEPARTMENT descriptions and explanations of strategies, services, and programs that they have implemented, with evidence demonstrating their effectiveness.

(3) The report should detail which actions the DEPARTMENT can pursue on its own without additional legislative action, and, within 60 days of the plan’s publication, the DEPARTMENT shall commence those programs.

(4) For aspects of the report that would require additional action by the legislature, DEPARTMENT shall include in the report specific requests and outlines of legislative action needed, including budget requests.

(5) Before the DEPARTMENT advances any recommendations, the DEPARTMENT shall provide an opportunity for public and stakeholder comments, including by conducting in-person public hearings or events in different regions of the state at least four times total per report.

(6) Final recommendations of the DEPARTMENT shall be posted on the department’s website within thirty days after the DEPARTMENT adopts such recommendations.

f) Definitions:

i) “Pre-kindergarten child” means a child who, as of the date established by the district of residence for kindergarten eligibility, is three or four years of age or is five years of age but is not yet enrolled in kindergarten.

ii) “Pre-kindergarten education” means services designed to provide to prekindergarten children developmentally appropriate early development and learning experiences based on [STATE]’s early learning standards.