Rhode Island

Access Rankings

None Served

Resource Rankings

State spending
All reported spending

Total Benchmarks Met

Of 10 benchmarks possible


During the 2022-2023 school year, Rhode Island preschool enrolled 2,364 children, the same as in 2021-2022. State spending totaled $14,990,487, and an additional $1,844,456 in federal recovery funds supported the program, down $670,471 (4%), adjusted for inflation, since last year. State spending per child (including federal recovery funds) equaled $7,121 in 2022-2023, down $284 from 2021-2022, adjusted for inflation. Rhode Island met 10 of 10 quality standards benchmarks.

What's New

The state increased funding for the Rhode Island State Pre-Kindergarten Program (RI Pre-K) by $8.2M in the FY24 budget to ensure the federal funding that ended was backfilled and to allow for expansion pipeline work to add classrooms in the 2024-2025 school year. The Governor has a goal to reach 5,000 seats by FY28. Rhode Island remains committed to the high-quality programming that the model was built on and is being thoughtful on expansion, developing relationships and coaching models with programs interested in applying for RI Pre-K in the next application cycle.

The Rhode Island Executive Office of Health & Human Services received a $4 million Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B–5) planning grant in December of 2022 for supports for early educators, including: an early educator supplemental compensation pilot program and higher education articulation support to advance degree attainment; focused strategic planning on early childhood multilingual learner supports and best practices; early childhood mental health; an infant/toddler system; early childhood development supports; early educator compensation; and RI’s quality rating and improvement system and family engagement and outreach, including for the RI Pre-K lottery in spring 2023.


The Rhode Island State Pre-Kindergarten Program, launched in 2009, is provided in public schools, Head Start programs, and private childcare. All children who turn four years old by September 1 and are living in participating communities are eligible for the program, even though enrollment is also determined by lottery. 

The Rhode Island Department of Education oversees the pre-K program, funded through an Early Childhood Categorical line, created in 2010, within RIDE’s state-budget. Using a phased-in approach, $10 million was invested over ten years to expand access to high-quality pre-K, commencing with communities containing a high proportion of children eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. 

In 2014, Rhode Island received a $19 million federal Preschool Development Grant (PDG) to expand access to its high-quality pre-K program. This funding was used to expand access in high-need communities and to enhance program monitoring, evaluation, and technical assistance. Enrollment nearly doubled between the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years as a result of the PDG support; the support did, however, level off, as planned, in 2017- 2018 and 2018-2019. 

Teachers in the program must hold a bachelor’s degree in early childhood. The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides training and technical assistance through a vendor to all staff on an ongoing basis. The Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program has been assessed for both process quality and program impact/child outcomes, including classroom quality and child outcomes in literacy, arithmetic, and social-emotional development.

Rhode Island State Pre-Kindergarten Program


Total state pre-K enrollment2,364
School districts that offer state program49% (communities)
Income requirementNo income requirement
Minimum hours of operation6 hours/day; 5 days/week
Operating scheduleSchool or academic year
Special education enrollment, ages 3 and 41,844
Federally funded Head Start enrollment, ages 3 and 41,514
State-funded Head Start enrollment, ages 3 and 4131


Total state pre-K spending$16,834,943
Local match required?No
State Head Start spending$1,190,000
State spending per child enrolled$7,121
All reported spending per child enrolled*$9,497

*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.

Rhode Island Quality Standards Checklist

Policy RequirementBenchmarkMeets Benchmark?

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

10benchmarks met
Early Learning & Development Standards BenchmarkComprehensive, aligned, supported, culturally sensitiveComprehensive, aligned, supported, culturally sensitive
Curriculum Supports BenchmarkApproval process & supportsApproval process & supports
Teacher Degree BenchmarkBABA
Teacher Specialized Training BenchmarkECESpecializing in pre-K
Assistant Teacher Degree BenchmarkHigh School Diploma plus 12 college credits in ECE/CD or a CDACDA or equivalent
Staff Professional Development Benchmark20 hours/year; PD plans; CoachingFor teachers & assistants: At least 15 hours/year; individual PD plans; coaching
Maximum Class Size Benchmark20 (4-year-olds)20 or lower
Staff to Child Ratio Benchmark1:10 (4-year-olds)1:10 or better
Screening & Referral BenchmarkVision, hearing, health & moreVision, hearing & health screenings; & referral
Continuous Quality Improvement System BenchmarkStructured classroom observations; Data used for program improvementStructured classroom observations; data used for program improvement