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Department of Education report calls for additional preschool access

A new U.S. Department of Education report says 65 percent of Nebraska four-year-olds aren’t enrolled in a publicly-funded preschool.

The report looks at the availability of publicly-funded preschool programs to four-year-olds nationwide. According to the report, 26 percent of Nebraska four-year-olds are enrolled in a state preschool program, and 9 percent are enrolled in Head Start.

Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, says preschool programs are critical, especially for certain groups of children.

"The research is very clear that English Language Learners and children at risk from low-income families learn even more. And probably it’s because they had more making up to do, and because of the environment that they come from isn’t as enriched as that of a middle-income or upper-income child."

Doggett says the Department of Education awarded grants to 18 states for preschool programs, but the federal government and states can do more.

The numbers in the U.S. Department of Education report don’t reflect programs that are available for younger children, or privately-funded preschool.