Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

State's investments in quality preschool can reduce K-12 disparities

Adam 04/03/17

A new analysis by KIDS COUNT in Washington shows the power of the state’s quality preschool program, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), to reduce the opportunity gap in the first five years of a child’s life.

Children’s Alliance’s KIDS COUNT partners at the Washington State Budget & Policy Center looked at the effect of expanding ECEAP to serve the 23,000 children who are eligible for this form of quality preschool, but are currently unserved. If currently unserved children were admitted to ECEAP, the KIDS COUNT analysis shows that the state could experience:

  • A 20 percent increase in kindergarten readiness overall;
  • Greater proportional increase for kids most disadvantaged by current educational inequities: Latino, Black, and American Indian / Alaska Native children;
  • Significant increases (greater than 55 percent) in kindergarten readiness in four central and eastern Washington counties: Yakima, Franklin, Adams and Chelan.
Research brief: impact of ECEAP expansion on kindergarten readiness by county

The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program is quality pre-kindergarten for income-eligible children who all too often face barriers to success in K-12. Eligible families earn less than 110 percent of the federal poverty line—for a family of four, that’s less than $26,730 per year. Despite delivering proven results in academic achievement, ECEAP serves fewer than half of our state’s eligible families.

Children’s Alliance leads a coalition of advocates in calling for investments in services and supports for children ages birth to 5. State lawmakers have made greater investments in these first five years—heeding the research showing the proven results of high-quality early learning. One recent state study shows that third, fourth and fifth graders who had been enrolled in ECEAP in the preschool years do better academically than their peers who hadn’t had the opportunity.

We all have a stake in making sure that ALL our kids get a great start. As the House, the Senate and Governor Jay Inslee prepare to finalize a two-year state budget, we are calling on lawmakers to sustain and enhance their early learning investments. You can join us. Share the KIDS COUNT analysis with family and lawmakers: read the brief here.