What would our country look like if every 3 and 4 year old had free access to a full day preschool program? Maybe, a little like our country’s capital: Washington, D.C. America’s capital has accomplished what many other countries have already done. Countries including Norway, France, Finland, Spain and Mexico have these programs currently in place. Other countries such as China and the United Kingdom are well on their way to offering a free full day preschool program.
What sets Washington, D.C. apart from other places in the U.S.? The answers are: money, funding and interpretation of the importance of Early Childhood education. In most states, funding for preschool programs is decided at the state-level. Funding can come in various forms such as tax revenue, federal grants or even private philanthropic foundations. The motivation for securing available money to preschool programs often is what is holding states and districts back.
There has been argument over whether or not those dollars are best spent in the Early Education years. However, overwhelming research shows that to spend money and focus on the early developmental progress of our youth has far reaching benefits. The benefits come not only to the child receiving the services, but also to the parents own economic progress as it gives parents (especially women) a chance to return to work sooner and for longer hours when they have the option of free quality childcare. In Washington, D.C. there is no sliding scale and there are no income thresholds. As long as a child meets the age and residency requirements; they are entitled to a 6.5 hour day of preschool.
With more and more funding being allocated to preschool and Pre-K programs it is no wonder we have seen an uptick in interest from Early Learning content publishers. EdGate has the most current National Early Learning standards and Head Start standards, as well as access to even more specialty standards sets.
By: Lindsey Dumovich