The State of Preschool Yearbook 2021

The State of Preschool 2021 annual report covers the 2020-2021 school year, the first school year fully impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic created difficulties such as health risks, closed classrooms, and remote preschool that disrupted already fragile systems. Enrollment declined by 18%, the first decrease in preschool enrollment in two decades. Preschool spending decreased too, but not as dramatically because many states protected preschool funding despite lower enrollments and preserved capacity for a rebound in enrollment. States also utilized federal funding, including pandemic relief funds to support preschool. Quality remains a concern as most states spend too little per child to provide a high quality program, and states relaxed standards during the pandemic.

Across the 44 states, DC, and Guam that funded a preschool program in 2020-2021, 29% of 4-year-olds and 5% of 3-year-olds were enrolled, a substantial decrease from pre-pandemic levels, erasing a decade of growth in preschool enrollment. Three state-funded preschool programs made changes to gain an additional benchmark for minimum quality standards (KS, UT, WA ECEAP). State funding for preschool fell by $254 million (adjusted for inflation) but spending from all sources increased. State preschool spending per child remains essentially the same as two decades ago, adjusting for inflation, below $6,000.

In the report, NIEER lays out policy recommendations for states and the federal government to expedite increased access to high-quality, full-day preschool.


Yearbook Contents

State Profiles

Click a state to view its profile.

US Map

Montana North Dakota Minnesota Washington Oregon California Nevada Idaho Utah Arizona New Mexico Colorado Wyoming South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Wisconsin Illinois Tennessee Mississippi Alabama Florida Michigan Indiana Ohio Kentucky Georgia South Carolina North Carolina New York Virginia Pennsylvania West Virginia Maine Maryland District of Columbia Delaware New Jersey Connecticut Massachusetts Rhode Island Vermont New Hampshire_2015 Alaska Hawai'i

American Samoa


Commonwealth of The Northern Mariana Islands



Profile News Release



Puerto Rico


Virgin Islands


Non-Survey Data

Suggested Citation: Friedman-Krauss, A. H., Barnett, W. S., Garver, K. A., Hodges, K. S., Weisenfeld, G., Gardiner, B. A., Jost, T. M. (2022). The State of Preschool 2021: State Preschool Yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.