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Innovative Local Efforts Exemplify the Benefits of Providing Quality Preschool Programs to All Children

May 17, 2006

Oakland, CA—Several communities throughout California are successfully addressing the statewide need for increased access to quality preschool programs, according to a new report from Children Now, a leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to assuring all children thrive.

The Promise of Preschool profiles 10 local preschool programs throughout the state that have expanded families’ access to preschool or improved the overall quality of their program. These pioneering programs have field tested preschool strategies that California could implement at the state level. These strategies to expand the number of children in quality preschool include, among others:

  • providing full-day options for working families;
  • integrating preschool into the K-12 system;
  • developing the social and emotional growth of children;
  • addressing the needs of English language learners;
  • including family child care homes in the preschool delivery system.

“Thanks to these leading local preschool efforts, the state has a reference guide of tactics we can use to increase the number of children in quality preschool programs based on real-world examples,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now. “These local efforts underscore the many economic and societal benefits that would result from improving preschool access and quality throughout the state.”

Tens of thousands of 4-year-olds in California currently are not enrolled in preschool, ranking the state 37th in the nation in terms of preschool enrollment. Additionally, the quality of preschool programs throughout the state varies widely. As such, there is a significant opportunity to improve the lives of our state’s children and families by investing in preschool. Children enrolled in quality preschool programs are much more likely to succeed in school and in life, thus benefiting society as a whole in many ways, including generating significant savings from reduced crime, welfare and remedial education.

Research shows that 90 percent of brain growth occurs in the first four years of life, but kindergarten usually doesn’t start until age five. So children who do not attend preschool miss out on a learning opportunity that can’t be recovered and struggle to catch up for the rest of their school years.

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