Connecticut should have universal access to preschool for all low-income children. Creating 1,000 more slots, at a cost of up to $8.7 million, will advance the goal of universal preschool for all low-income preschool children.[i]
Current Connecticut Statute
School Readiness is CT’s state-funded high-quality preschool program, administered by the Office of Early Childhood (OEC).[ii] State statute provides a framework for School Readiness quality (They must be accredited or close to accreditation.); teacher quality (with increasing numbers of Bachelor level educators in classrooms); and funding ($8,670 for full-time slots).[iii]
The OEC has applied for a federal grant to pay for another 428 School Readiness slots. On December 31, 2014, the state should be notified if their grant application was approved.[iv] If so, that would reduce the statewide need to about 5,100.
Dozens of rigorous studies have shown that low-income children who participated in high-quality early childhood programs experienced gains in early language, literacy, and numeracy skills.[v]
Longer term, low-income children from these quality early childhood programs have lower rates of grade retention and special education identification, higher rates of high school graduation, fewer arrests, and greater rates of college attendance and completion.[vi]
[i] With the addition of about 1,000 new School Readiness slots in FY 2014-15, there is still an unmet state need of about 5,500 slots. This is a calculated number, using the following sources and data elements: Total of preschool students from the Early Childhood Cabinet, retrieved from: http://www.ctearlychildhood.org/; total percentage of low-income preschool students; numbers of FY 2013-14 students in high quality early childhood programs from the CT application for the 2013 Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, derived from: http://www2.ed.gov/program; FY 2014-15 slots from the Office of Fiscal Analysis, “Highlights of Midterm Budget Adjustments for FY 2015”, retrieved from: http://www.cga.ct.gov/ofa/Documents/year/HLT/2014HLT-20140507_Highlights%20of%20the%20FY%2015%20Revised%20Budget.pdf“. Last year, CCER estimated the unmet need of low-income children for quality preschool slots at 6,500; with the addition of 1,020 new slots, that leaves about 5,500 slots still needed.
[ii] Statutorily, the transfer of School Readiness from the Department of Education to the Office of Early Childhood was done in P.A. 14-39, “An Act Establishing the Office of Early Childhood, Expanding Opportunities for Early Childhood Education and Concerning Dyslexia and Special Education.”
[iii] Section 10-16p and q of the 2014 supplement to the general statutes as amended by P.A. 14-39.
[iv] 2014 PRESCHOOL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS EXPANSION GRANT APPLICATION, Office of Early Childhood, Oct. 2014, retrieved from: http://www.ct.gov/oec/lib/oec/initiatives/2014_pdg_narrativebudget.pdf
[v] Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education. New York: Foundation for Child Development and Ann Arbor, MI: Society for Research in Child Development. Yoshikawa, H., Weiland, C., Brooks-Gunn, J., Burchinal, M., Espinosa, L., Gormley, W., Ludwig, J.O., Magnuson,K.A., Phillips, D.A., & Zaslow, M.J. (2013). Retrieved from: http://fcdus.org/sites/default/files/Evidence%20Base%20on%20Preschool%20Education%20FINAL.pdf
[vi] Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects: Research and Policy Implications. Barnett, W. S. (2008). Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved from : http://nieer.org/resources/research/PreschoolLastingEffects.pdf.