Pre-K Access and Funding

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National Analysis:

The 2011-12 school year was a difficult one for pre-K advocates.1

  • State funding for pre-K decreased by more than half a billion dollars from 2010-11 to 2011-12, the largest one-year drop ever.
  • After a decade of growth, pre-K enrollment stalled, marking the first school year with no increase in the percentage of children served in state pre-K programs.
  • State funding fell to an average of $3,841 per child, a more than $400 drop compared to the previous year. This marked the first year that average real funding per child slipped below $4,000 since the National Institute for Early Education Research began releasing its annual yearbook in 2003.
  • State spending per child has dropped by more than $1,100 since 2001-02.

About 1.3 million children attended state-funded preschool programs, but participation rates and funding varied across states.2

  • Forty states offered state-funded preschool programs, while 10 states—Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming—did not have state-funded programs during the 2011-12 school year. 
  • Nationally, 4.2 percent of 3-year-olds and 28 percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-K, while 16.1 percent of all 3-and 4-year olds are enrolled.
  • For the second year in a row, Florida ranked first and Oklahoma second in the highest percentage of 4-year-olds served by state preschool programs.
  • Illinois led the nation in access for 3-year-olds, with a 20 percent enrollment rate, followed by New Jersey, where 18.6 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled.
  • In the 2011-12 school year, 40 states spent $5.1 billion on pre-K. 
  • New Jersey spent the most per child on pre-K—$11,659—followed by Oregon at $8,509 per child and Connecticut at $8,388 per child.

Regional Analysis:

Ten of the 11 states in CSG’s Eastern region offered state-funded pre-K programs during the 2011-12 school year.3

  • The average state enrollment rate for 3-year-olds in the Eastern region is 5.5 percent, the highest of any region, while the average regional enrollment rate for 4-year-olds is 25.3 percent, the third highest regional average.
  • Vermont has the highest enrollment rate for 4-year-olds in the Eastern region at 65.2 percent, followed by New York at 44.2 percent and Maryland at 34.5 percent.
  • Three states in the region—Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island—have no 3-year-olds enrolled in state funded pre-K, while New Jersey at 18.6 percent and Vermont at 16.1 percent have the highest enrollment rates in the region for 3-year-olds. 
  • States in the Eastern region spent an average of $5,296 per child on pre-K during the 2011-12 school year.
  • New Jersey spent the most per child at $11,659, followed by Connecticut at $8,388 and Delaware with $6,795.
  • In inflation-adjusted dollars, year-over-year spending per child dropped in the 2011-12 school year in six of 10 states in the region. Four states—Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Vermont—each raised per child spending over the same period.

Eight of the 11 states in CSG’s Midwestern region had state-funded pre-K programs during the 2011-12 school year.3

  • The Midwestern region had the second highest regional average state enrollment rate for both 3 and 4-year-olds—4.9 percent for 3-year-olds and 25.9 percent for 4-year-olds.
  • Wisconsin had the highest enrollment rate for 4-year-olds in the Midwestern region at 61 percent, followed by Iowa at 52.5 percent and Illinois at 27.7 percent.
  • Two states in the region—Kansas and Michigan—had no 3-year-olds enrolled in state-funded pre-K, while three states—Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin—had close to 1 percent of 3-year-olds enrolled. Illinois at 20 percent and Nebraska at 13.4 percent had the highest enrollment rates for 3-year-olds in the region.
  • States in the Midwestern region spent an average of $3,612 per child on pre-K during the 2011-12 school year.
  • Minnesota spent the most per child—$7,592—followed by Michigan at $4,422 and Ohio at $3,980.
  • In inflation-adjusted dollars, year-over-year spending per child decreased in the 2011-12 school year in seven of eight states in the region. Only Iowa increased spending over the same period.

Fourteen of the 15 states in CSG’s Southern region had state-funded pre-K programs in the 2011-12 school year.3

  • The average state enrollment rate for 3-year-olds in the Southern region was 2.7 percent, the lowest of any region, while the average regional enrollment rate for 4-year-olds was 38.1 percent, the highest regional average. 
  • Florida had the highest enrollment rate for 4-year-olds in the region at 79.4 percent, followed by Oklahoma at 74.1 percent and Illinois at 60.9 percent.
  • Seven of 14 states in the region had no 3-year-olds enrolled in state funded pre-K, while four states—Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas and West Virginia—had an enrollment rate higher than the national average of 4.2 percent.
  • States in the Southern region spent an average of $3,880 per child on pre-K during the 2011-12 school year.
  • West Virginia spent the most per child at $6,002, followed by Arkansas at $5,409 and North Carolina at $5,160.
  • In inflation-adjusted dollars, year-over-year spending per child decreased in the 2011-12 school year in nine of 14 states in the region. Arkansas and West Virginia each increased spending by more than $200 per child.

Eight of the 13 states in CSG’s Western region had state-funded pre-K programs in the 2011-12 school year.3

  • The average state enrollment rate for 3-year-olds in the Western region was 2.8 percent, the second-highest regional average, while the average regional enrollment rate for 4-year-olds was 10 percent, the lowest average of all the regions.
  • Colorado had the highest enrollment rate in the region for 4-year-olds at 21 percent, followed by California at 18.1 percent and New Mexico at 15.5 percent.
  • Two of eight states in the region—Alaska and New Mexico—had no 3-year-olds enrolled in state funded pre-K, while three states—California, Colorado and Oregon—had an enrollment rate higher than the national average of 4.2 percent.
  • States in the Western region spent an average of $4,743 per child on pre-K during the 2011-12 school year. 
  • Oregon spent the most per child at $8,509, followed by Alaska at $8,057 and Washington at $6,665.
  • In inflation-adjusted dollars, year-over-year spending per child dropped in the 2011-12 school year in five of eight states in the region. Arizona, Alaska and Nevada each increased spending per child during the same time period.

 


References:

1Barnett, W.S. & Carolan, M.E. “Trends in State Funded Preschool Programs: Survey Findings from 2001-2002 to 2011-2012,” National Institute for Early Education Research, 2013. MPP. 

2 Barnett, W.S., Carolan, M.E., Fitzgerald, J., & Squires, J.H. “The State of Preschool 2012: State Preschool Yearbook,” National Institute for Early Education Research, 2013. 

3. Ibid.