In Alabama, 6 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in a state-funded early learning program and 2,294 children under the age of three are enrolled in Early Head Start. This number is steadily increasing as early childhood education has been championed by Gov. Robert Bentley and supported by the state legislature this year. Today, Alabama remains one of only four states that meet the 10 quality benchmarks in early childhood education established by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Additionally, the average annual cost of center-based infant care is amongst the lowest in the country at $5,467.