Meaningful Investments in Pre-K: Estimating the Per-Child Costs of Quality Programs

May 01, 2008

Pre-kindergarten programs are expanding throughout the nation. Decades of research on the impact of these programs show that high quality standards produce substantial benefits for children, working families, and communities.

As state leaders seek to increase investments in pre-k, they face a number of choices and potential tradeoffs that all have clear spending implications. Policy makers require solid cost information to ensure that funding is adequate for public and private centers to cover their costs and to encourage more centers to participate in publicly funded pre-k programs.

Written jointly with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and Early Childhood Policy, "Meaningful Investments in Pre-K: Estimating the Per-Child Costs of Quality Programs” provides national estimates of the per-child costs of pre-k in diverse settings and at varying levels of teacher quality, class size, and hours per day. The estimates give a general picture of the expected costs of quality improvements, though actual costs will differ from state to state.

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