State of AZ Preschool 2012
Education in the years before kindergarten is increasingly accepted as playing a critical role in preparing children for school success. Nonetheless, across the nation, state funding for pre-K decreased by more than half a billion dollars in 2011-2012, the largest one-year drop ever according to the National Institute for Early Education Research in their annual State Preschool Yearbook for 2012.
Arizona is among the states whose support for pre-K has diminished over the last decade. Arizona’s state legislature eliminated all state general fund support for the Early Childhood Block Grant for the 2010-11 school year. Currently, First Things First provides the only state funding remaining for pre-K, with 31 regional councils allocating voter-approved tobacco taxes to young children by 31 regional councils. In the 2011-12 school year, First Things First funded pre-K enrollment for 3,166 3 and 4 year-olds – fewer than 2% of children this age across the state. This puts Arizona far behind many other states; Texas enrolls 29% of 3 and 4 year-old children in state-funded pre-K and Florida enrolls 40%.
President Obama’s Preschool for All budget proposes a blueprint to improve early education and school success. The plan is a multipronged approach to open high quality preschool to all 4 year-olds in low and moderate income families, build new partnerships between Early Head Start and child care providers, expand voluntary home visiting, and increase resources for child care. States would be able to design and operate their own programs with federal financial assistance based on state investments and standards.