Q+A: Does Preschool Really Matter?

What's Being Done to Make Preschool Affordable?

Policy makers have different ideas about how to make quality preschools more affordable for families. These are the options.

State-Funded Preschools: Some states and localities are expanding the existing school system to include pre-K. The drawback is that they lack sufficient funds to meet growing demand; some have turned to sources such as lottery money, gaming revenue, and new taxes.

Public/Private Partnerships: In a number of districts, preschool programs are paid for by a combination of public money and private funds from business leaders and philanthropic organizations. Detractors say that these partnerships may be difficult to sustain because they require continual fund-raising efforts.

Vouchers: This policy would give public funds directly to parents, who could use them at any preschool, whether public, private, or church-run. But many worry that this could lead to a two-tiered education system: good private schools, where vouchers are supplemented by tuition, and inferior public schools that are forced to get by on a more limited budget.

Tax Credits: There are proposals to increase the existing childcare tax credits offered by the federal government and by some states. These allow parents to choose any type of preschool they want. The downside is that, even with increased tax credits, many parents would still find quality preschool unaffordable.

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