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Policy Analysis

Ensuring Adequate Resources for Expanding High Quality Pre-K


February 13, 2020
By Lori Connors-Tadros and GG Weisenfeld

There are three critical steps to ensure adequate funding for high quality pre-K. First, fully specify quality standards, the number of children to be served, and a timeline to achieve these; then cost it out year-by-year if these increase over time. Care must be taken to estimate the full cost including facilities and state and local support and administration. Second, develop an approach to securing revenue to fund the full cost as it rises over time.Some states rely on local and federal funds to share costs. This reduces state burden but can create problems if federal funds disappear or if differences in local fiscal capacity are not taken into account. Third, distribute funding to programs. Although states often use one flat rate per child or per classroom statewide, local costs and fiscal capacity to pay a share vary which can result in equities in enrollment and quality.