The Case for Investing in High Quality Pre-K

17 November 2015 Written by  

Following the passage of House Bill 96 – the School Readiness Initiative – in 2014, Utah has an opportunity to expand access to high-quality Pre-K statewide—an investment that is important for families and the economy alike.

High Quality Pre-K Matters:

  • High quality Pre-K programs are essential to the healthy development of Utah’s kids, particularly in terms of the school readiness of low-income children. In Utah, 16.8% of children under age 5 (about 49,000) live in poverty.
  • Enrollment in high quality Pre-K not only ensures that kids develop the skills they need for academic success, but provides key support for working parents.

Access & Affordability Affect Families & Employers:

  • Because most of Utah’s Pre-K providers are private, low-income families are often priced out of the high quality licensed market. Many middle class families struggle to cover the cost, as well—a statewide average of $8,052 per child per year—especially those with more than one young child.
  • It is critical for employers to be able to attract and retain qualified workers who are both reliable and focused on the job. The workforce reliability of parents with young children, however, is impacted by the child care setting they are able to arrange.
  • Quality of care is related to a child’s healthy development. Investing in high-quality Pre-K today, so that all Utah children start school ready to learn, will preempt a lifetime of remediation at a far higher cost.

A Well-Educated Workforce is Required to Support a Strong Economy:

  • Investments in early learning and development are the best foundation for human capital. These investments have immediate and long-term benefits, both to the child and to our state.
  • For example, if children from low-income households have access to high quality Pre-K, they are:
    Less likely to repeat a grade
    Less likely to require special education services
    Less likely to go to jail / prison
    More likely to graduate high school / attend college
  • With up-front investments in high quality Pre-K, Utah will be able to produce the talented workforce required to meet future economic demand. And as business leaders know, it is much more cost-effective to “get it right” from the start than to have to fix problems later on.

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The Case for Investing in High Quality Pre-K

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?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

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.