Universal Preschool

Universal Preschool is the notion that access to preschool should be available to families similar to Kindergarten. Child advocates have different definitions of the definition of who is included and how it is to be funded. There has been a move to change the name to Preschool for All. Like Kindergarten, the concept is to have a voluntary program, unlike education, that is mandated by law in the United States with exceptions to allow for home schooling and alternative education.

Advocates have argued over:

The age of children eligible for the service of preschool with some taking the more traditional view that priority should be provided to children four years of age and others believing that brain development dictates that learning begins at birth and declines significantly by age eight.

Other child advocates believe that children except for those in institutions are in a family, whether it be a two parent family, single parent family, foster care, guardianship, kinship care that often requires a full day rather than a part day preschool.

Child advocates point to the head start model as ideal with parent involvement and education, social services and a family focus as critical to a quality preschool.

A last issue for child advocates is whether the preschool should be provided by government, usually through public school systems or whether the existing diverse delivery system. Currently most preschool used by families consists of public, nonprofit, church related, private for profit and in home settings (family day care).