In the News

Red, Blue and Purple States. Majority of Voters Want More Investments in Pre-K

With growing calls from voters for states to provide greater access to early learning programs such as prekindergarten, more states are answering the call.  And they may not be the states you assume are out in front.

States with at least seventy percent of four-year-olds enrolled in prekindergarten:

  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Oklahoma
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • District of Columbia

States with at least forty-five percent of four-year-olds enrolled in prekindergarten:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • South Carolina
  • Texas

Bipartisan support for early learning investments is now at an all time high.  A First Five Years Fund 2021 national poll showed 84% support of voters surveyed support making preschool more available by providing it at no cost to all three- and four-year-olds whose parents want to send them.

Read the full story from Education Week.

Philadelphia Mayor: If you’re ever having a bad day and want to uplift your day, go visit a pre-K.

Since 2017, a beverage sales tax in Philadelphia has funded the PHLpreK program for 3-and-4-year-olds, and upgraded recreation centers and libraries across the city.  Sugar sweetened drinks are taxed 1.5-cents per ounce tax on beverage distribution, including syrups and concentrates. Between 2017 and 2021, the tax has raised $330 million for these programs.

Elizabeth Gaines and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney Talk Soda Tax

Elizabeth Gaines, CEO of the Children’s Funding Project spoke with Mayor Jim Kenney who championed the passage of the tax by the City Council in 2016.  He reflected on the strategy to pass the legislation, efforts to overturn it and its positive impact on children. Read Gaines’ interview with Mayor Kenney here.

Our case study provides advocates the details about the efforts to pass the soda tax, including the challenges, keys to success and the results to date.








Preview Six 2022 Ballot Measures for Funding Children’s Programs

The Children’s Funding Project previews ballot initiatives across the country for children’s programs from Missouri to New Mexico. Victories in November will dedicate millions of dollars to kids for child care to mental health services and more. Revenue to fund these programs will come from a variety of methods: Increases in property taxes, sales tax, a budget set aside, two parcel tax measures – including one levying funds from commercial property and utilizing funds from a land grant fund that flows from oil and gas companies using public land.  Learn more

Multnomah County’s Preschool for All Ready to Launch

MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OR, August 18, 2022 – The Multnomah County (OR) Preschool for All program will open in September. After voters passed an income tax referendum in November of 2020, the program is ready to launch.  In its first year, more than 600 three-and-four-year-old children will attend tuition-free Preschool for All. With over 1,100 applications the county hopes to be able to add another 500 slots in the 2023-2024 school year.

Read our case study about the Multnomah County Preschool for All referendum that gained 64% of the vote to establish a tuition-free, universal preschool program funded by a progressive income tax. The measure is considered a model for communities across the country because the taxation is based on income.



Buncombe Commits $3M in ARPA Funds to Preschool Programs

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, NC, MAY 17, 2022 – When a child with freshly combed hair and an oversized backpack walks into the first day of kindergarten, 90% of that child’s brain has already developed.

Development continues over the next several years, according to researchers with Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, but it’s during those first five years — roughly 2,000 days — that a person establishes the foundation for cognitive, social and emotional growth. “While there’s obviously the ability to continue to learn, the issue is that it will take more time and effort,” said Amy Barry, executive director for Buncombe Partnership for Children, or BPFC.

For children’s development to be optimized, they need to be engaged and challenged during those first five years. But how can parents, who often have jobs and other children, ensure their kids receive all the tools they need to grow into critical thinkers with emotional regulation and social awareness?

According to Barry and the rest of the BPFC team, the answer is simple: preschool. Read more.

Pre-K 4 SA Adds 3-Year-Olds, Expands Free Program for Families

SAN ANTONIO, TX, MAY 4, 2022 – Pre-K 4 SA announced Wednesday it will open enrollment to 3-year-olds and expand access to free pre-kindergarten for families making less than $75,000.

The expansion was driven by feedback from families that said they earned too much to qualify for free pre-K but too little to afford a quality program, said Paul Chapman, interim chief operating officer. San Antonio families can begin enrolling their 3-year-olds for the 2022-23 school year Monday. Children must be 3 by Sept. 1 to enroll. Previously, Pre-K 4 SA only enrolled 4-year-olds.

Pre-K 4 SA also has created a scholarship structure that will allow any family earning up to $75,000 a year to have their 3- and 4-year-olds attend free of charge, CEO Sarah Baray said Wednesday at a press conference. Previously, Pre-K 4 SA only offered free, full-day pre-K to families considered to be economically disadvantaged or whose children qualified for the free- or reduced-price lunch program. Read more.

Multnomah County’s Universal Preschool Initiative Not Universal — Yet

MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OR, MAY 2, 2022 – Interest in Multnomah County’s Preschool for All program has already exceeded the number of available slots, in just the first few weeks it’s been open.

For its first year, Preschool For All has 677 slots available for 3- and 4-year-olds in Multnomah County this fall. So far, Multnomah County Preschool and Early Learning Director Leslee Barnes said they’ve received a little over 800 applications.

“Parents are really showing us that this is something they really need, and are looking forward to,” Barnes said. Barnes said about 70% of applications identify with groups that historically have the least access to preschool, including families of color and families experiencing homelessness. Children in those groups are given priority to the preschool programs.

Last summer, providers signed up to be in the Preschool For All system as a “pilot site” to offer spots and contract with the county to offer free preschool. Read more.

New Orleans Voters Approve Early Childhood Education Tax

NEW ORLEANS, LA, APRIL 30, 2022 – A new property tax that’s expected to pull in $21 million annually for early childhood education in New Orleans was poised to pass by a wide margin in Saturday’s election. With only a few precincts uncounted as of 10:15 p.m., 61 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the tax.

The tax proposition was the only item on the New Orleans ballot in Saturday’s election, leading to a low turnout in the city: 24,611 of the New Orleans’ 267,266 registered voters, with 347 out of 351 precincts — or about 99 percent of the city — tallied.

The revenue generated by the tax will fund an additional 1,000 early childhood education seats for New Orleans students. A state matching grant could double that, expanding the program to 2,000 seats. Either way, it will vastly expand the city’s current program which is funded at $3 million per year, creating 200 seats.

The New Orleans city government began directly funding early childhood education in 2018 with a $750,000 pilot program. The city doubled that investment to $1.5 million in 2019, and doubled it again in 2020 to reach $3 million. Those funds are used to pay the tuition costs for private early childhood education programs for kids who can’t afford them. Read more.

Cincinnati Preschool Promise Training Men of Color as Tutors

The Cincinnati Preschool Promise is teaming up with Literacy Lab to train 100 men of color to tutor young children in its preschool program.  Literacy Lab is based on the Reading Corp model, which has worked in 12 states, supporting 36,000 each year in becoming proficient readers. Multiple funders have come together to provide $4.6 million to launch the program. Read more about Reading Corp, Literacy Lab and the new Cincinnati initiative.