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1A Remaking America: The state of universal preschool

A view of Pre-K students at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City.
A view of Pre-K students at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City.

For many parents of young children, full-day pre-K programs are out of reach.

In 2021, the average cost of preschool in the United States hovered just under $900 a month, according to the Center for American Policy.

And with inflation boosting the price of nearly everything, it’s no shock that the price of childcare has increased in recent years.

Enter: universal preschool. It’s a measure that’s received bipartisan support, but so far has only passed in 11 states.

For families struggling to meet basic household needs, universal pre-K programs are essential.

While plans to implement universal preschool nationwide have stalled in Congress, lawmakers in 14 states are exploring preschool expansion.

This week, we venture to Colorado, where the legislature passed universal preschool last year. Recent walkbacks in funding and dips in enrollment are threatening to close many state-funded early learning centers.

How should the states handle preschool programs? What effect might universal preschool – or the absence of it – have on education outcomes?

This show is part of 1A’s Remaking America collaboration with six partner stations around the country. Remaking America is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Lauren Hamilton