National Access

Total state pre-K enrollment, all ages1,631,968
State-funded preschool programs60 programs in 44 states and DC 1
Income requirement35 state programs have an income requirement
Minimum hours of operation26 part-day; 15 school-day; 7 extended-day; 12 determined locally 2
Operating schedule2 full calendar year; 39 school/academic year; 19 determined locally 
Special education enrollment, ages 3 and 4467,539
Federally funded Head Start enrollment, ages 3 and 4537,239 3
State-funded Head Start enrollment, ages 3 and 413,852 4


  • 1Throughout this report, the District of Columbia is included like a state, resulting in a list of 45 states for rankings. In 2015-2016, Guam began offering a “state”-funded pre-K program but is not included in totals or rankings in this report.
  • 2NIEER’s definitions of hours of operation are as follows: part-day programs serve children for fewer than 4 hours per day; school-day programs serve children at least 4 hours per day but fewer than 6.5 hours per day; and extended-day programs serve children for 6.5 or more hours per day. Some programs offer multiple hours of operation but only the minimum one is listed here.
  • 3The enrollment figures for federal Head Start include children in the program in all 50 states, D.C., and the U.S. territories, as well as enrollment in the Migrant & Seasonal and American Indian/Native Alaskan programs. These numbers do not include children funded by state match.
  • 4This figure is based on the Head Start enrollment supported by state match as reported in the survey by states. This figure includes 13,046 children who attended programs that were considered to be
    state-funded preschool programs and are also included in the state-funded preschool enrollment total.

National Quality Standards Checklist Summary

Early learning & development standardsComprehensive, aligned, supported, culturally sensitive58
Curriculum supportsApproval process & supports56
Teacher degreeBA31
Teacher specialized trainingSpecializing in pre-K47
Assistant teacher degreeCDA or equivalent19
Staff professional developmentFor teachers & assistants: At least 15 hours/year; Individual PD plans; Coaching19
Maximum class size20 or lower46
Staff-child ratio1:10 or better48
Screening & referralVision, hearing & health screenings; & referral41
Continuous quality improvement systemStructured classroom observations; Data used for program improvement42

For more information about the benchmarks, see the Executive Summary and Roadmap to State Profile Pages.

National Resources

Total state pre-K spending$11,732,021,112 5
Local match required?12
State Head Start spending$330,595,281 6
State spending per child enrolled$7,277 5
All reported spending per child enrolled*$8,294

*Pre-K programs may receive additional funds from federal or local sources that are not included in this figure. †Head Start per-child spending includes funding only for 3- and 4-year-olds. ‡K–12 expenditures include capital spending as well as current operating expenditures.


  • 5 a b This figure includes federal TANF funds and federal COVID-19 relief funds directed toward preschool at states’ discretion.
  • 6This figure includes $216,346,091 also included in the total state pre-K spending. This also includes some funding for state supplements to Early Head Start where states could not separate Head Start and Early Head Start funding.