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Senate Votes to Makes Iowa Preschool Available to More Kids

March 4, 2016
Steve Sodders - IA State Senator , Dysart Reporter

Since 2007, Iowa has offered voluntary preschool throughout the state. The initiative has helped prepare more students to be successful learners.

Before statewide preschool, only 19 percent of 3-year-old and 4-year-old children attended quality preschools. Last year, 22,200 Iowa preschoolers (55 percent) enrolled in programs in 320 of Iowa's 338 school districts. This is an impressive improvement, but we can do more to ensure all Iowa kids get to go to preschool.

Iowa has a uniquely high need for quality childcare and preschool offerings because 77 percent of Iowa children under 6 have all available parents in the workforce. We want all kids to get a year of state-funded preschool, if their families want it.

This week, the Senate approved SF 2009 to expand the statewide preschool program to include 5-year-old children who haven't yet had a chance to enroll in preschool. Some students aren't ready for preschool at 4, and aren't ready for kindergarten at 5. When parents decide to wait an extra year before sending their kids to school, they often miss out on preschool because the state's largest public program is only for 4 year olds.

For every dollar spent on the education and development of school-aged kids, Iowa invests only 18 cents on children from birth to age five. Expanding preschool to 5 year olds makes sense. It reaps great long-term rewards.



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