Preschool for All: A Strong Start for Washington State's Children

November 12, 2021

The Education Policy Initiative has released a new Policy Report. In partnership with colleagues from Washington State and NYU, EPI has published a thorough examination of early learning options for 3 and 4-year olds and policy recommendations for Washington State’s Preschool for All program.

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High-quality preschool helps prepare children for kindergarten and promotes their long-term success. Yet, many families with middle and low incomes in Washington State are left out of public preschool options and cannot afford preschool on their own. Authors of this new report remind us of the importance of these findings as the early childhood period - defined as ages 0-8 - are foundational years with long term implications for children’s development. Moreover, the early childhood educator workforce, which already has notoriously high turnover, has suffered incredible instability during the pandemic, hindering quality of early learning programs. Finally, due to longstanding inequities in public investments, family child care homes and child care centers suffered greater impacts than Head Start programs and public schools.

The policy proposal envisions “statewide, universal, voluntary, high-quality preschool delivered through a mix of public and private, community-based nonprofit service providers, phased in over 10 years.” The report outlines specific program parameters, including eligibility and cost to families, teacher compensation and credentials, and service delivery and makes specific policy recommendations on full school days, prohibiting expulsions, and quality monitoring and evaluation, among others.

The report’s recommendations are the result of years of engagement between leaders and practitioners in Washington and the Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality team, including Christina Weiland, EPI faculty co-director, Tim Burgess, former City Council President and Interim Mayor of Seattle, Ajay Chaudry of New York University, Ruth Kagi, former Member of the Washington State House of Representatives, Anna Shapiro of the University of Virginia, and Casey Moran from New York University.  

Read more about the report here. Download the report here

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Associate Professor, School of Education