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Large numbers of children of low income families in the United States arrive at kindergarten already far behind their more affluent peers on measures of school readiness. In the absence of any federal preschool policy and amidst alarm about this growing divide, universal prekindergarten (UPK) programs have been launched around the United States, at both the state and local levels, to address the school readiness gap. Invest in Children, a public/private partnership in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, OH) launched a UPK program of high quality, affordable preschool nine years ago. The program’s creation, implementation and challenges are discussed along with evaluation findings that document its positive impact on school readiness. Lessons learned are discussed in terms of the impact of political and economic shifts, as well as state policy changes, on this local program. The program’s planned expansion and enhancements to program design and evaluation are also described.
early childhood, prekindergarten, school readiness, preschool
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Rebekah L. Dorman, Elizabeth Anthony, Billie Osborne-Fears & Robert L. Fischer (2017) Investing in high quality preschool: lessons from an urban setting, Early Years, 37:1, 91-107, DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2016.1228614