As publicly funded preschool programming continues to grow, commitment to the creation of inclusive and equitable preschool settings remains core to ensuring students’ academic success and social enrichment.
With support from Trust for Learning, The Hunt Institute, The Century Foundation, The Education Trust, and Educational Alliance’s Manny Cantor Center have partnered on the new report, Strong Foundations: Promoting Diverse and Inclusive Preschool Settings. Substantial research points to the benefits of diverse preschool settings for all students. This report highlights the benefits of preschool diversity and offers recommendations to policymakers and advocates working to shape policy that supports investment in and equitable access to diverse preschool experiences.
Read the introduction below or the full report here.
Children’s early learning experiences lay the foundation for their success in school and life. Over the past decade, research has repeatedly demonstrated the importance of high-quality early childhood experiences for the social, emotional, and cognitive development of young children. Science tells us that young children’s brains develop more rapidly during the years prior to kindergarten entry than at any other time. Additionally, research has revealed the importance of high-quality early education for children’s short- and long-term academic, social, and professional success. Economists have also found early childhood investments demonstrated education’s greatest return on investment, further strengthening the argument for high-quality early childhood experiences.
As such, the years of early childhood serve as a critical opportunity not only to support the academic, physical, and social-emotional development of young children, but to demonstrate and reinforce America’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Young children benefit greatly from exposure to racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity during this crucial and formative period, yet many existing policies may inadvertently deter classroom diversity and inclusion.
Promoting diversity and inclusion within the classroom is a catalyst for meeting developmental milestones and promoting greater social understanding and equity. This brief seeks to address the importance of promoting diverse and inclusive settings by presenting the current state of preschool, highlighting the benefits of preschool diversity, and identifying policies, institutional factors, and initiatives that foster diversity. The brief concludes with a list of policy recommendations designed to support policymakers and leaders in reevaluating current policies to ensure children have access to diverse preschool experiences.
As policymnakers at all levels continue to push for the expansion of 3- and 4-year-old prekindergarten, there has never been a more important time for this conversation. This brief takes the stance that now is the time to invest in creating preschool experiences that are not only accessible, affordable, and highquality, but also represenative of the full diversity of American society.