Pre-K and Preschool Funding

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education released “non-regulatory guidance” to reiterate that school districts may use Title I funds for “preschool” programs. Preschool programs are defined as programs for children who are not yet old enough to enroll in the grade level at which a school district begins to provide a free public elementary education. In some states, elementary education begins at first grade; in others it begins at kindergarten or before.

In the 2011-12 school year, according to the Department of Education, 2.6 percent of children attending Title I-funded education programs were ages 0-5. The Department does not require districts to report the allocation of Title I funds by grade. As a result, it is difficult to track how many federal Title I dollars are used to support pre-K students.