Among states that fund early childhood education, three in four increased those appropriations for this fiscal year, according to a new analysis.
Nationally, states raised pre-kindergarten funding by 6.9 percent for the 2013 to 2014 fiscal year. That amounts to about $364 million more, bringing the national total for pre-K funding to $5.6 billion, the state-formed Education Commission of the States reported on Friday. And while some states are still making up for ground lost during the recession, overall funding is actually $400 million more than it was before it even hit.
Ten states allocate no pre-K funding. Of the 40 that do, seven made no changes to funding levels and three cut funding. (Alaska cut pre-K appropriations by 7.3 percent, while Florida cut by 2 percent, and Louisiana slashed about 1.6 percent.)
Of the 30 that raised funding, six saw increases of more than 50 percent. Massachusetts led the pack by nearly doubling funding, and was followed by South Carolina, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska and New Mexico. Mississippi for the first time invested $3 million in pre-K.
Such investments can yield big dividends, the report’s authors write:
A large and growing body of research shows that high-quality pre-K yields both short- and long-term benefits for children and their communities. The fastest period of brain development occurs during a child’s first five years of life. This time is critical for cognitive, social, and behavioral development and lays the foundation for future success in school and in life.
Studies have shown that investments in quality pre-K can yield returns of anywhere from $7 to $17 per dollar spent.