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Federal Support Could Close 'Preschool Access Gap,' Center Says

Days before President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union Address that he would make it an administration priority to help states expand preschool, the progressive Center for American Progress announced its proposal for an expansion of early learning programs.

With the administration now poised to release budget details on that proposal, the organization is out with an analysis that it says bolsters the need for federal support. Researchers at the center say that though states have acted on their own to expand preschool programs (something I've written about), they are still not reaching many children.

The center refers to this as a "preschool access gap" that can leave thousands of children, particularly those from low-income families, without access to state programs. The organization has also drafted an interactive map of state preschool quality ratings and rates of enrollment.

Even in the state that leads the nation in enrolling 3- to 4-year-olds in preschool, Vermont, fewer than half of the state's children attend preschool, the analysis notes. "Few states are in a financial position to offer all 3- and 4-year-old children voluntary access to high-quality preschool education. Federal dollars can help states reach this goal," it concluded.

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