Among those who work with young children, the importance of kindergarten may seem like a no-brainer. But in fact, kindergarten has been neglected in state and federal policy for years and often suffers from unstable funding. A new policy brief from the Foundation for Child Development shines a spotlight on these problems and makes the case for moving full-day kindergarten “from the margins to the middle of the education reform debate.”
- Six states (Alaska, Idaho, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania) do not require districts to provide half-day or full-day kindergarten and children are not required to attend a kindergarten program.
- Sixteen states require children to attend half-day kindergarten.
- Ten states require districts to offer full-day kindergarten.
- Two states, Louisiana and West Virginia, require children to attend full-day kindergarten.
- Three states (Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina) require districts to offer both half-day and full-day kindergarten options, but do not require children to attend.
- States should enact policies requiring school districts to offer full-day kindergarten – and provide adequate funding to districts.
- Policymakers at every level should include full-day kindergarten as an explicit and primary component in all formal, comprehensive pre-K -12 and P-20 education reform initiatives.
- The federal government should encourage school districts to use a portion of their federal Title I funds to support full-day kindergarten.
- State and federal policymakers should require school districts to collect and report data specific to full-day kindergarten.