Pay for Success Funds Preschool, Prevents Need for Special Ed

24 September 2015 Written by  

Early childhood education research from around the country has shown that investments in high-quality Pre-K pay off in significant ways. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count data, however, the majority of Utah’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in Pre-K. Until 2014, in fact, Utah was one of only 10 states that provided no state-level funding for high-quality preschool.

With her early childhood expertise and experience in finance, Janis Dubno—Voices for Utah Children’s former Director of Early Education Policy—saw an opportunity. To help fund high-quality Pre-K in Utah, Janis designed a “sustainable financing model” to illustrate that early childhood education investments could ultimately save money for Utah taxpayers. The model evolved into a results-based financing system that allows private investors to cover the up-front cost of Pre-K programming for at-risk 3- and 4-year olds in Utah, with the state reimbursing investors for each child who is considered at risk for later special education intervention upon preschool entry, but who ultimately does not require special education services in K-6.

Since the pilot program began in 2013, Voices for Utah Children has provided research and analytic support to United Way of Salt Lake in implementing the results-based financing (social impact loan) project. Aptly dubbed “Pay for Success,” the model—now in its 3rd year—is increasing access and enrollment, closing opportunity gaps, and providing the state with the data it needs to support investment in high-quality Pre-K.

 how pay for success financing of preschool works

Image courtesy of our partners at United Way.

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities. How can you be involved?

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex


Sara Face Shot BetterSara Gunderson, Office Manager and Executive Assistant, joined the organization in 2007. She has extensive administrative experience, including more than eight years in development at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. Sara received her BS in Psychology at the University of Utah with a coursework emphasis in infant and child development.