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Kentucky’s preschool, kindergarten programs effective but need greater investment

October 20, 2017
Ashley Spalding
Kentucky Forward online news

High quality early childhood education has long been understood to be an important investment with a significant return. While our state has done more in recent years to expand access to preschool and full-day kindergarten, a new report from the state Legislative Research Commission shows there is real need for additional investments.


The report describes how effective our state’s preschool program is at preparing children for kindergarten — especially those from low-income households or who have disabilities. However, while full-day preschool is shown to be most effective just 40 percent of Kentucky school districts offer more than a half-day preschool program, largely due to funding constraints.

Kentucky’s public school districts are required to provide free preschool for three-year-olds and four-year-olds with disabilities and four-year-olds with household incomes up to 160 percent of poverty. For all other four-year-olds interested in enrolling, school districts can enroll students as space permits and may charge tuition, which 61 did in 2017.

Tuition rate range from $900 to $5,550 a year, and 4 schools tie tuition rates to parental income. Two districts, Lee County and Wolfe County, do not currently provide preschool services but instead serve preschool students by contracting with their local Head Start providers.