A new report ranks Colorado near the bottom in the nation on state funding for preschool education.
Funding was just one of many issues found in the State of Preschool Report for 2007 conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Colorado ranked 36th out of 38 states for funding preschools. Colorado has only one state funded program. The Colorado Preschool and Kindergarten Program is available for at risk children only which means children with some kind of developmental problem. Developmental problems include low parental education levels, parental substance abuse, homelessness, participation in a foster care system, or a learning disability.
The amount the state spends per child is only $2,047 compared to the $3,600 national average. Funding is not the only issue found in the report. In total Colorado spent close to 29 million dollars on preschool in 2007.
A child's access to a preschool program is also a problem. According to the report only 15 percent of Colorado's at risk 4-year-olds are enrolled in a state funded preschool.
National officials believe access is becoming a growing problem not just for at risk children. Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research believes middle class families suffer the most. Barnett says, "Wealthy families can afford expensive, high quality Pre–K programs. The very poorest families have access to the federal head start program. Children in the middle get left behind and the nation as a whole loses out as well."
Middle class family's are affected by making too much money to qualify for assistance while not making enough to pay for private schooling which could cost as much as sending a child to college.
Colorado also only passed 5 out of 10 benchmarks set by the Institute. Colorado did not pass benchmarks for early learning standards, teacher degree, assistant teacher degree, screening referral and support services, and meals.