|News Release|| |
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:||HHS Press Office|
|Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2003||(202) 690-6343|
HHS REPORT FINDS STATES INCREASING PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAMS
The Department of Health and Human Services released a report today showing that some states are major providers of pre-kindergarten programs, a vast change from when Head Start was created in 1965.
The report, State Funded Pre-Kindergarten Programs: What the Evidence Shows, shows that while there is great variation across states, most state-funded pre-kindergarten programs meet widely accepted and research-based quality standards, offer key expanded services to meet children's health and nutrition needs, and use a range of strategies to involve parents in their children's education.
"States have substantially expanded their focus on early childhood education and many are well-positioned to enter an new level of partnership with Head Start to improve the readiness of children to succeed in school," Secretary Thompson said.
The report examines the role that states play in providing early childhood education. When Head Start first began in 1965, very few states had experience with pre-kindergarten programs. The report reviews evidence on states' level of support for pre-kindergarten programs; the quality and effectiveness of state-funded pre-kindergarten; and state efforts to build integrated, comprehensive early childhood systems for children from birth through age five that have a focus on school readiness.
The report found that states are seeking to eliminate barriers to coordination and make even greater strides toward integrating pre-kindergarten, child care, Head Start and targeted programs, such as health, safety, and nutrition, into comprehensive early childhood systems. Some states are using existing research, conducting new research, and building data systems to evaluate the results, design and operations of their programs, and make improvements in their approaches.
"Improving Head Start and other preschool programs to ensure children are prepared to succeed in school is at the center of President Bush's proposal to reauthorize the Head Start program," Secretary Thompson said. "Given the vital role states already play in conducting preschool programs, we must do a better job in fostering comprehensive, high quality preschool programs."
Existing research has technical limitations that constrain what can be known about the impact of state efforts on children's outcomes. However, there is promising evidence that states can implement programs that produce positive outcomes in areas that include cognition, language, and academic achievement, with some evidence of improved achievement test scores, reduced grade retention and increased school attendance in the elementary grades. The report concludes that while all states currently may not have the capacity to undertake the administration of a coordinated and comprehensive early childhood education, selected states appear ready to meet this challenge.
The report can be found on the Web at
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Last Revised: December 3, 2003
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