Today, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University released its annual nonpartisan report on The State of Preschool for the 2013-14 school year.

The report shows what we at FFYF have also been tracking: states are working to increase funding for public preschool programs and that is having a positive effect on enrollment nationwide.

Key findings from the NIEER report include:

  • States increased funding for early education programs by nearly $120 million over the previous school year
  • State pre-K funding increased by $61 per child over the 2012-13 school year to a total of $4,125 per child
  • Mississippi created a new early childhood education program, enrolling 1,774 children. The new program — the state’s first publicly-funded early learning initiative – also met all ten of NIEER’s quality standards in its first year.

However, the report also shows that there is much more work to be done. Just 29 percent of the nation’s 4-year-olds and 4 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded preschool. And as of the 2013-14 school year, nine states still had no publicly-funded early childhood education programs in place.

Let’s continue the trend upward! So far this year, the response from state lawmakers in red and blue states alike has been extremely positive when it comes to new investments in early childhood education. Also in a few weeks, the United States Senate will consider an education bill that includes a dedicated funding stream to help states build and expand access to high-quality early learning programs.

Working with local, state and federal elected officials from both parties, we can make next year’s report show even larger gains.