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Why is quality preschool important?

Quality preschool is one of the best strategies to help children have a strong start and a strong future. Ninety percent of the brain is fully developed by the age of 5 – before children start kindergarten. Quality preschool helps children learn, develop cognitive and non-cognitive skills, and sets a foundation for success in school and in life. Children who have quality preschool before entering kindergarten are more likely to enter school prepared, succeed in school, graduate from high school and become productive citizens.

How do you know quality preschool works?

Quality preschool has been proven with decades of national and local research to help children succeed in school and in life – to give children a strong start and a strong future. Quality preschool helps children be ready for kindergarten, read successfully by the end of third grade, do better in school, and graduate from high school prepared for college and careers. Investing in quality preschool also generates strong economic returns, conservatively estimated at $2 to $4 for every $1 invested. The RAND Corporation recently completed a comprehensive, independent review of the benefits and economic returns of investing in quality preschool in Cincinnati. You can read their findings here:

What are the payoffs from investing in quality preschool?

Investing in quality preschool is a sound economic investment. The RAND Corporation recently completed a comprehensive review of the costs and benefits of investing in quality preschool expansion and estimated returns of $2 to $4 for every $1 invested. The savings come from increases in school readiness, reductions in instructional intervention, special education, and grade repetition, as well as higher rates of high school graduation.

How is quality in preschool measured and determined?

Preschool quality in Ohio is measured and determined by a statewide system called Step Up to Quality (SUTQ). SUTQ is a five-star quality rating and improvement system administered by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. SUTQ recognizes and promotes learning and development programs that meet quality program standards that exceed licensing health and safety regulations. The program standards are based on national research identifying standards which lead to improved outcomes for children.

How will preschool expansion be paid for?

$15 million per year of proceeds from the CPS levy will be dedicated to preschool expansion, both within CPS and community providers.

What is the geographic scope? Who is eligible?

Families who live within the boundaries of the Cincinnati Public School District will be eligible to receive preschool tuition credits. Our goal is to provide all families with support for two years of quality preschool. To begin, though, we must prioritize those families who need tuition assistance and quality preschool the most – primarily families below 200-300% of the poverty level. All children enrolled in preschool (regardless of income) stand to benefit though, through quality improvement grants made to preschool providers to enable them to achieve and maintain high levels of quality that support child learning and development.

What will preschool funding pay for?

Preschool expansion funding will fund tuition credits to help families offset the cost of quality preschool as well as quality improvement grants to help preschool programs achieve and maintain high quality.

How does this new preschool funding work with other dollars for preschool education, like Head Start?

New funding for preschool expansion is intended to be “last dollar,” supplementing other federal and state funds that are currently available and being used for preschool, such as Head Start, Title I funding, ODE Expansion Grants, and state child care subsidies. The funding that is currently in the system for preschool is not sufficient to meet the needs of all children in Cincinnati. New preschool funding will also allow preschool providers (including Head Start providers) to expand and serve more children.

How will preschool funding be managed?

CPS issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a local, established nonprofit (a “Trusted Entity”) to manage the preschool expansion initiative, and selected United Way of Greater Cincinnati. United Way will receive the funding from Cincinnati Public Schools for the expansion of quality preschool through community providers and will be responsible for managing the funds and program. The Trusted Entity will be fully accountable to the Board of Education and thereby to the taxpayers. Read more about the governance structure here.