Funding the Future: States' Approaches to Pre-K Finance

Feb 01, 2008

Between the fiscal years 2005 and 2008, state funding for high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten increased by nearly $2 billion nationally. While most state pre-k dollars come from general revenues, rising demand is driving policy makers to seek reliable, supplemental funding streams such as lottery and gaming revenues, excise taxes, and public-private partnerships.

State funding increases have not kept pace with the rising number of children attending pre-k.  In fact, the average state per-child spending has decreased each year since 2002. Therefore, continued creative thinking about how to fund high-quality pre-k is necessary.

This report examines the range of different financial approaches states employ, how effective they have been in identifying funds, how sustainable those funding sources are, and how investments can be increased to improve pre-k quality and expand program access. The analysis encourages policy makers to think creatively about ways to supplement and sustain current funding streams for pre-k programs in their own states.

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