For the second year in a row, nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University released data showing that, nationally speaking, the U.S. has increased funding for pre-K.
Adjusted for inflation, state funding for pre-K increased by nearly $120 million in 2013-2014 across all 50 states and Washington, DC. Enrollment growth also resumed, albeit modestly, with a total increase of 8,335 slots to reach its highest level recorded over the report’s 12-year history.
And program quality standards increased as an unprecedented seven states gained ground on NIEER’s 10 benchmarks for quality standards.
- Washington ranks 33rd for access to pre-K education for 4-year-olds. The program saw only a slight enrollment increase in 2014, with another 350 children enrolled.
- The state ranks 8th for state spending, though it experienced a slight decrease in per-child spending in 2014 (reduced $76). With the addition of funding from other sources, Washington spends $6,658 per child and is one of the few states spending a sufficient amount to provide a high-quality program, coming in at 8th in the resource rankings.
- Washington Early Learning achieves 9 of NIEER’s 10 quality standards benchmarks. The nonpartisan Washington State Institute for Public Policy has found that the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) leads to strong gains in later achievement, but less than 1 in 10 of the state’s 4-year-olds and only 2 in 100 3-year-olds receive the program.
With access to quality pre-K so limited in the state, Seattle is one of several large cities across the nation that has stepped up to expand early learning opportunities on its own, with a new program to offer quality preschool to all children. In the state legislature, a proposal to increase per-child funding and add 1,350 new slots for Full School Day and Extended Day services was approved for 2014-2015. Governor Inslee has proposed plans to expand preschool access to low-income families with children and develop state funded full-day kindergarten.
“In the coming years, Washington State Department of Early Learning’s goal is to promote high-quality pre-K education for children under the age of five,” said Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL) Director, Dr. Bette Hyde. “Every pre-K child deserves the resources and tools he or she needs to build a strong foundation for learning and success."