Between 2002 and 2008, the number of 4‑year-olds attending state-funded preschool programs in the U.S. jumped from 14% to 24%. Another 15%, in 2008, were enrolled in other public funded programs such as Head Start or special education. In addition, 41% of 4‑year-olds were enrolled in private programs.
While it appears that states have made great progress in funding preschool resources overall in the past five years, the availability of these programs varies widely from state to state. Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida lead the nation with funding for early education programs but in states like Indiana, New Hampshire and Wyoming, virtually no public programs exist. Because of recent budget constraints, many states are considering charging tuition and fees in order to continue operating these programs.
Check out the market by market statistics in The State of Preschool, 2008, report. Is your market one that lacks public programs or one that faces budget cuts? The new economic reality presents opportunity for independent schools to compete with public schools. Remind your independent school clients to advertise services valued by parents — certified teachers, low teacher-student ratios, extended care hours — in order to achieve higher enrollment. Your clients should market to parents of children who are currently enrolled in public schools as well as to parents of the 20% of 4‑year-olds who currently are not enrolled in preschool.[Source: The State of Preschool, National Institute for Early Education Research, 2008]