Unequal Opportunities Report

Unequal Opportunities for Preschoolers:

Differing Standards for Licensed Child Care Centers

and State-Funded Prekindergarten Programs

This 2009 report compares state licensing regulations for center-based child care and early learning programs with standards for state-funded prekindergarten initiatives. As a basis for comparison, it uses the quality standards checklist developed by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). The comparison also includes information about Head Start program standards and Department of Defense (DoD) regulations for military child care.

The report highlights the gap between state standards for child care and standards for state-funded prekindergarten. Differing standards for licensed child care centers and state-funded prekindergarten programs result in unequal opportunities for the majority of young children. Children in state-funded prekindergarten programs were more likely to be in classrooms that met NIEER benchmarks for quality than were children in center-based child care and early learning programs licensed by the states. The state in which a child lives, as well as the family’s income level, determines the child’s chances of benefiting from state-funded or federally-funded programs.

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