Eighty-seven percent of adults surveyed in a new poll believe the government should provide enough funding so that all parents can afford to send their 3- and 4-year-olds to a high-quality preschool.
The survey of 3,230 voters was sponsored by the National Institute for Early Education Research, a center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and Market Strategies in Washington.
The results, which were released in August, also show that close to half the respondents—42 percent—believe that cost is the biggest obstacle parents face in finding a good preschool program. A third of those polled said they would be willing to support higher state taxes to pay for access to preschool for all children.
Of those surveyed, only one in five currently have preschool-age children. W. Steven Barnett, the director of the center, said such broad support for preschool was a good sign.
Roughly three-fourths of those polled said they believe early-childhood-education programs build children’s confidence, help them perform better academically in elementary school, and strengthen families.
The sluggish national economy has raised concerns among advocates for early-childhood education that funding for early- learning initiatives is going to be increasingly difficult to find.
Recently, though, those advocates got some good news. Coalitions of early- childhood-education groups in four states have each been awarded $350,000 to support their efforts.
The partnerships in Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Ohio represent a variety of government and nonprofit organizations focusing on child care and other early-childhood issues.
Each partnership will receive $175,000 before the end of the year and another $175,000 in 2004, after they have raised additional funding in their own states.
The awards are part of a new initiative called Build, which has been started by 11 members of the Early Childhood Funders’ Collaborative—a consortium of national and local foundations.
The members include the George Gund Foundation, the Lucent Technologies Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, and the Schumann Fund for New Jersey.
— Linda Jacobson firstname.lastname@example.org