The State of Preschool Yearbook 2020


The State of Preschool 2020 annual report finds that growth in state-funded preschool had slowed, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. And the COVID-19 pandemic imposed huge setbacks on preschool. Progress had also been uneven across the states, resulting in increased inequality in children’s access to high-quality preschool.

This report focuses on the 2019-2020 academic year but also provides information on the pandemic’s impacts on state-funded preschool into the 2020-2021 school year. Across the 44 states, DC, and Guam that funded a preschool program in 2019-2020, 34% of 4-year-olds and 6% of 3-year-olds were enrolled, essentially the same as last year. Three state-funded preschool programs made changes to gain an additional benchmark for minimum quality standards. States spent $300 million more on preschool (adjusted for inflation) than the prior year and state spending per child increased after two years of stagnation.

However, most states still spend too little per child to support high-quality, full-day pre-K and most do not come close to reaching all 3- and 4-year-olds or even all low-income 3- and 4-year-olds. Now is the time for a renewed commitment to and investment in high-quality preschool. A federal-state partnership can ensure fewer children miss out on the opportunity for a high-quality preschool experience.


Suggested Citation

Friedman-Krauss, A. H., Barnett, W. S., Garver, K. A., Hodges, K. S., Weisenfeld, G. G. & Gardiner, B. A. (2021). The State of Preschool 2020: State Preschool Yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.