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Federal Support for High-Quality Pre-K For All

OCRE Meeting March 20, 2008 Washington, DC


Rationale for Investing in Rural Pre-K 1) Access to center-based programs lower among rural children Percentage of 3-to-5 year olds enrolled in center based preprimary programs, by locale and hours of attendance: 2005 (NCES)

Hours attended per week:


Rationale for Investing in Rural Pre-K 2) Evidence of Rural/Non-Rural School Readiness Gap NCES Early Childhood Longitudinal Study* data show an “early learning gap” separating rural children from non-rural peers: 15 percent less likely to begin kindergarten with key early literacy 50 percent less likely to possess beginning sounds recognition 60 percent more likely to require special education placement

3) High Rural Poverty Rates “Non-metro” areas experience higher poverty rates overall (14.2%) than the metro population(11.6%) (USDA, 2004) Rural poverty is more persistent than poverty in other areas (Rural Poverty Research Center) 88% of persistently poor counties are non-metro 18% of nonmetro counties are persistently poor, compared to 4% of metro counties

*Grace, Cathy, Elizabeth F. Shores, et al. New Clues to Reaching Very Young Children and Families in Rural America. Zero To Three (2006)


Rationale for Investing in Rural Pre-K 4) The Resource Challenge Scarce Local Funding Rural public schools draw on local funding for only 39% of their total revenue, while city and suburban schools derive 52% and 48%, respectively. This, too, is a chronic problem: rural schools are “plagued with limited resources.� (National Research Center on Rural Education Support) City and suburban schools often receive priority for facilities improvement and renovation, despite lack of resources in rural school districts (Rural School and Community Trust) Unsubsidized private childcare unaffordable In states with the highest proportional enrollment in rural school districts, the cost of enrolling one child in private childcare amounts to between 20 and 35 percent of earnings. Enrolling an infant and a preschooler simultaneously can cost up to 85 percent of the state median income in these states. (NACCRRA) Childcare demand in rural areas is especially high: Among mothers with children under age six, those living in rural areas have higher unemployment rates, higher poverty rates, lower wages, and lower total family income than those in other areas. (Carsey Institute review of 2000 census data)


Principles for Federal Legislation 1. Incentive Grants to States 2. Formula-based funding allocations to local providers, to be determined by states 3. Requirement of state match and maintenance of effort in other areas of support for early childhood and K-12 education 4. Increasing federal match for progress in implementing quality benchmarks 5. Quality before capacity 6. Allowable funding for statewide activities targeted to rural areas Teacher training and professional development, esp. for paraprofessionals to become certified Partnerships with higher education institutions and articulation agreements Incentives for teachers to teach in rural areas, including “grow your own� programs

7) Improve program administration Disseminate information about best practices in combining federal, state, and local funding streams Partnerships with Head Start Alignment with K-12 curricula


Contact Information

Matt Smith Federal Policy Fellow Pre-K Now

202-862-9860 msmith@preknow.org


Federal Support for High-Quality Pre-K For All