How Education Freedom Scholarships Can Expand Preschool Options

Expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities for preschool children

Problem:

  • The benefits of participating in high-quality early learning opportunities have been well documented, especially for vulnerable children and dual-language learners.
  • However, high-quality early learning opportunities are not available to all children and families and states struggle to fund opportunities.

Solution:

  • The Education Freedom Scholarships (EFS) proposal creates a $5 billion annual federal tax credit for voluntary donations to state-based scholarship programs.
  • With EFS, states can seize the opportunity to empower families with preschool age children to access high-quality early learning opportunities, while relieving some of the financial pressure many families experience.

How EFS Can Expand Early Learning and Preschool Options:

  • EFS can be used for preschool age children if the State includes preschool or prekindergarten in its definition of elementary education.
  • States can design their programs to complement and expand existing public and private preschool programs and services. Scholarships can be focused, for instance, on expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities and programs.
  • The scholarships could cover allowable education expenses including, but not limited to:
    • Tuition and fees at a preschool of a family’s choice;
    • Transportation to a preschool provider;
    • Homeschool, cooperative or community-based preschool education expenses, including specialized preschool curriculum and educational materials;
    • Programs and services that support transition to kindergarten; and
    • Programs and services that complement and expand existing special education programs and services for preschool children with disabilities, including access to high-quality inclusive programs.

Looking Forward:

  • High-quality early childhood interventions have positive effects on test scores. Importantly, positive effects are also sustained in the long-term, improving high school graduation, years of education completed, and earnings, and reducing crime and teen pregnancy according to a report recently published by the Society for Research in Child Development.
  • Empowering preschool children with expanded access to high-quality early learning opportunities through Education Freedom Scholarships can help provide all children the foundation to succeed in school, work, and life.