Funding for Preschool Programs

While a majority of American preschool programs remain tuition-based, support for some public funding of early childhood education has grown over the years. As of 2008, 38 states and the District of Columbia invested in at least some pre-kindergarten programs, and many school districts were providing preschool services on their own, using local and federal funds.

The benefits and challenges of a public preschool are closely tied to the amount of funding provided. Funding for a public preschool can come in a variety of sources. According to Levin and Schwartz funding can range from federal, state, local public allocations, private sources, and parental fees. The problem of funding a public preschool occurs not only from limited sources but from the cost per child. The average cost across the 48 states is $6,582. There are four categories that determine the costs of public preschools: personnel ratios, personnel qualifications, facilities and transportation, and health and nutrition services. According to Levin and Schwartz these structural elements depend heavily on the cost and quality of services provided. The main personnel factor related to cost is the qualifications each preschool require for a teacher. Another determinate of cost is the length of a preschool day. The longer the session, the more increase in cost. Therefore, the quality of program accounts presumably for a major component of cost.

Collaboration has been a solution for funding issues in several districts. Wilma Kaplan, principal, turned to collaborating with the area Head Start and other private preschool to fund a public preschool in her district. “We’re very pleased with the interaction. It’s really added a dimension to our program that’s been very positive”. The National Head Start Bureau has been looking for more opportunities to partner with public schools. Torn Schultz of the National Head Start Bureau states, “We’re turning to partnership as much as possible, either in funds or facilities to make sure children get everything necessary to be ready for school”. The goal for funding is to develop a variety of sources that provide for all children to benefit from early learning within a public preschool.