A new report says Washington's early education programs are among the best in the country ... they just serve too few kids.
Researchers with the National Institute for Early Education at Rutgers University say Washington spends more per child on preschool than most states (at $6780/child annually), but actually ranks near the bottom in terms of access to early education programs.
According to the report, "The State of Preschool 2011," only about 20-percent of the state's 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in state or federally funded preschool programs -- about half the children who are eligible. To qualify, children must come from families whose income is at or below 110 percent of the federal poverty level.
The state spends roughly $54 million every year on early education, but has cut funding the past three years.
Washington was one of nine states to receive funding under Race to the Top to expand its early learning initiatives. That money, an estimated $60 million, will be spent primarily on a kindergarten readiness program.