Arizona Preschoolers Are at Risk of Being Left Behind

Last Thursday, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released its annual State of Preschool Report. The report is a state-by-state comparison of preschool program funding, access, and best practice policies. This year’s report notes that preschool programs are at a critical juncture. During the COVID pandemic, enrollment in programs decreased drastically while there was an influx of pandemic relief funding intended to help maintain the infrastructure. As that temporary federal funding is ending, states, including Arizona, face the choice of producing their own additional resources for preschool or backsliding on their progress.   

During the 2022-2023 school year, enrollment of 4-year-olds in public preschool increased, but Arizona still lags far behind the rest of the country, placing forty-third out of fifty. State spending totaled $20,779,103 (almost all attributed to First Things First funds), and an additional $11,450,342 in federal recovery funds supported the program, up $10,792,365 (50%), adjusted for inflation since last year.  Policymakers have invested zero general fund dollars into preschool. Arizona remains unchanged and way behind the rest of the nation in meeting only three of the ten best practice benchmarks. While much of the rest of the nation has made noteworthy progress, children are being left behind in states like Arizona that have not made any fundamental changes. Access to high-quality preschool is one way to ensure that young children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed.  

It is more important than ever for our policymakers to prioritize investing in high-quality early childhood programs. 

Click here for the full report.

More News

News

Arizona Releases First-Ever Report on Adolescent Health

Children’s Action Alliance (CAA), in collaboration with Affirm and the Arizona Alliance for Adolescent Health, is excited to release the inaugural State of Adolescent Health in Arizona report. Recognizing that adolescence is a critical phase of growth and development for establishing a foundation for…

News

Nearly 103,000 Arizona kids lost AHCCCS, but KidsCare expansion brings hope.

Since the end of the public health emergency a year ago, 103,000 fewer Arizona children are enrolled in AHCCCS coverage with the return to regular renewal requirements, according to a new report from Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. AHCCCS and its companion KidsCare provide child-specific…

News

SB 1458: Because Children Thrive in Families, Not Institutions

Arizona places young foster children in group homes and institutions at a higher rate than any other state in the nation. We must change that – and we can with SB1458. Congregate care placements have detrimental effects on the healthy development of children, especially young children. Experts...