Pre-Kindergarten: A Key Support For Low-Income Working Families
Aug 17, 2007
Governor Tim Kaine (D-VA) announced recently that he will propose that the state expand its existing preschool initiative to serve all four-year-olds in the state who qualify for free and reduced price lunch (up to $38,000 for a family of four). This is good news for low-income families who would like their children to participate in pre-school.
Of critical importance, but less prominent in the announcement, is the Governor's vision that child care centers meeting high quality standards are included in the pre-school program. CLASP's research has found that this "diverse delivery model" presents an important opportunity to bring together the dual goals of promoting early learning and supporting working families. Yet, this research also shows that implementation matters, and without several key policies in place, community-based child care providers--and the working families they serve--can be left out of the pre-school program. Key policy recommendations for states like Virginia moving to expand pre-school include:
- Require that a minimum proportion of pre-kindergarten be delivered in non-school settings and require that a proportion of settings have the capacity to provide fullworkday and -year services.
- Identify and eliminate state child care subsidy policies that may prevent participation of community-based providers in the pre-kindergarten program.
- Allow pre-kindergarten funding to augment other child care funding without reducing existing resources to assure full workday coverage for low-income families in a setting that maintains consistent pre-kindergarten quality all day.
- Conduct thorough outreach and disseminate information to all potential communitybased providers.
- Set pre-kindergarten payments and provide dedicated funds that cover the cost of providing a high-quality early education program.
- Invest in the communitybased child care teacher workforce by providing targeted resources to help teachers meet pre-kindergarten teacher education standards and receive comparable wages to similarly educated school teachers.