The end of the year typically marks a time for reflection for early learning policy, as well as everything else, and the release of NIEER’s annual State of Preschool Yearbook. Across the 44 states, DC, and Guam that funded a preschool program in 2019-2020, just 34% of 4-year-olds and 6% of 3-year-olds were enrolled, numbers that are largely unchanged from the previous year. States spent $300 million more on preschool (adjusted for inflation) than the prior year and state spending per child increased after two years of stagnation. However, most states still spend too little per child to support high-quality, full-day pre-K and most do not come close to reaching all 3- and 4-year-olds or even all low-income 3- and 4-year-olds.
Enrollment in California’s two preschool programs (California State Preschool Program, CSPP, and Transitional Kindergarten, TK) was essentially unchanged at 242,771 children in 2019-2020, while funding increased 3% (accounting for inflation) at $1.95 billion. a decrease of 2,843 children from the prior year. State spending per child was $7,514 for CSPP and $8,755 for TK. CSPP met 6 of 10 quality standards benchmarks and TK met 3 of 10. More information on California’s programs, enrollment, spending and quality ratings can be found in the state profile.