In the News

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.

New Orleans Property Tax Measure for Early Learning on April 2022 Ballot

The New Orleans City Council has approved a ballot measure for the April 2022 election to raise funds for more children to attend preschool and to support the expansion of providers needed. An estimated $21 million in revenue from a property tax increase would give 1,500 more children access to early childhood programming. Currently the City Council provides $3 million.   This effort follows an unsuccessful campaign in 2020 to increase property taxes for early learning.

 

 

What Aiming High Did for San Antonio’s Pre-K 4 SA

The success of San Antonio’s Pre-K 4 SA program is now looked to as a possible model as Congress considers universal Pre-K for young children across the nation.  In this story, the Guardian speaks to San Antonio parents and the architect of the program, highlighting access for families, professional development and competitive grants to promote high quality care.  You can also read our updated case study on San Antonio’s Pre-K 4 SA.

 

Voters Ready to Raise Local Taxes to Support Early Childhood Education

More than 80% of voters believe that creating equitable opportunities for children to get a strong start in life should be one of the highest priorities for government—and they are willing to raise their own local taxes to make those opportunities possible. This finding, and others about voters’ attitudes toward funding for children and youth services, comes from a new national poll of U.S. voters who participated in the 2020 election, commissioned by Children’s Funding Accelerator and conducted by FM3 Research in August 2021.

Read the Children’s Funding Initiative blog and download and share the infographic about the survey highlights.

 

 

 

 

Wake County NC Expands Pre-K to Three-Year Olds

Wake County NC announced it will now offer pre-kindergarten to eligible three-year-olds starting in 2022. Since 2015, the county has supplemented the state NC Pre-K program to support more 4-year-old children’s kindergarten readiness. With 86% of eligible children accessing NC Pre-K in Wake County, Commissioners voted to create Wake ThreeSchool for three-year-olds. With Wake County being the largest school system in the state, ensuring more children are ready for kindergarten is significant. Read the county’s press release here. Read our original case study of Wake County that describes its investment in NC Pre-K.

Voters Now View Child Care as an Essential Service Like Healthcare and Education

The results of a new national poll from the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) reveal the clear impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on voters’ views of America’s child care system—and the need for a significant public investment in meaningful child care policy solutions for working families and providers. No longer can lawmakers and candidates for office view child care as a “nice-to-have” service, when voters now clearly see it as something that is essential for children, families, and America’s economy.

Regardless of party, voters overwhelmingly say high-quality, affordable child care for families with young children is an essential service—just like healthcare and education.


A majority of voters—particularly women—say the COVID crisis has shown us how essential it is that we build a child care system that makes care available and affordable to all families who need it.  Read more.

Diversified Funding Streams Can Deliver Educational Equity for Young Children

Access to high-quality early childhood programs for young children from under-resourced and overburdened families because of systemic racist policies, can provide an equal footing to achieve school readiness and lifelong employment, improve their social and cognitive development, and improve academic achievement. A new issue brief released by The Hunt Institute highlights the importance of public investment through diverse funding mechanisms (federal, state and local) to ensure educational equity for young children. Because 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before kindergarten, the early years (birth-to-age-five) are the most critical period of life for rapid brain development and foundational growth.

As states continue to recognize the return on investment in funding early childhood programs – $8.60 for every $1 spent – seven states voted on ballot measures to fund early childhood initiatives during the November 3, 2020 election:

  • Colorado’s tax on nicotine products
  • San Antonio, Texas – renewal measure
  • St. Louis, Missouri – six-cent property tax for early childhood services for infants to 5-year-olds
  • San Joaquin County, California’s Measure X
  • Cincinnati, Ohio – renewal on a 73-cent property tax, originally passed in 2016
  • Escambia and Leon counties, Florida – property tax revenue to fund cradle-to-career services

Read more about each of the victories and types of funding mechanisms here.

On the local level, dedicated fees and taxes through property, sales, school and income taxes are some of the ways early childhood education is financed. Through NC Early Childhood Foundation’s Local Funding for Early Learning: A Community Toolkit, there are in-depth case studies that detail local, public funding (municipal or county level) for children – from early learning to literacy programs. In North Carolina:

  • Expanding the County’s Budget: In Wake County, the 2015 budget for Wake County included $325,728 to expand NC Pre-K classrooms to serve more children. By 2017, the budget was increased to $488,600 with another $100,000 dollar-for-dollar match to encourage community investment. The additional investments since 2015 now provide access to NC Pre-K to 359 children.
  • Property Tax and County Budget Allocation: With 19.8 percent of children under the age five in Mecklenburg county living in poverty, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved $6 million each for Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 county budget to reduce the child care subsidy waiting list for children under age five. The BOCC approved an increase in the property tax rate of three-quarters of a penny to raise more than $9 million to open 33 new public pre-k classrooms, referred to as “MECK Pre-K”.

For North Carolina communities interested in learning more about local financing, please contact Lisa Finaldi at lfinaldi@buildthefoundation.org.