Demand for universal pre-kindergarten has grown significantly in the last decade, and states have responded by doubling the number of programs available. Today, 49 states sponsor pre-K programs, together spending close to $4 billion a year to fund them. But money for the new programs often comes from the same sources that fund traditional full-day child care, causing some child advocates to wonder whether pre-K may come at the expense of child care programs, a necessity for many working parents.
“Pre-K programs are designed to enhance school readiness,” explains EDC’s Diane Schilder. “But they may have unintended consequences for families who need full-day child care for work or job training.”
Schilder has teamed up with the National Institute for Early Education Research to study the impact expanded pre-K programs have on the availability and quality of full-day child care programs. Working in New York and Ohio, the team will examine four counties with different pre-K models to discover whether expanded pre-K programs result in fewer child care options. Surveys of teachers in the same counties will provide data on trends in child care program quality, as indicated by teacher education levels, classroom size, and teacher/child ratios.
Schilder will share the findings with all state child care administrators. She also plans to host a series of conference calls with key policymakers on the implications of the findings for improved child care policy development. The study is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation.
Originally published on October 24, 2008