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High-quality publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs: How much do they cost?


To help policymakers understand the cost of providing high-quality pre-K programs, RAND Corporation researchers collected 2018–2019 fiscal year expenditure data for 36 public and private providers operating as part of four publicly funded pre-K systems in three states: Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program, Oregon Pre-Kindergarten, Oregon’s Preschool Promise, and Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K. The researchers used these provider-level data, along with state-level expenditure data from the two pre-K systems in Oregon and from Washington state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, to generate per-child estimates of total provider costs, as well as expected system costs (i.e., the resources at the state or district level that support the pre-K program at the provider level). The researchers also developed a cost model that was used to estimate per-child pre-K cost at the national, state, or local level for the focal pre-K systems already mentioned, as well as Universal Pre-K Boston and Oklahoma’s Early Childhood Four-Year-Old Program. The findings from the study can be used by policymakers as they strive to continue making high-quality pre-K programs accessible for all families. (author abstract)

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