In Maryland, 2,028 children under the age of three are enrolled in arly Head Start and 35 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded early learning programs. Additionally, the average annual cost of center-based infant care in the state is $13,055. Currently, the state is facing budget issues that could affect its efforts to establish voluntary, universal preschool. Besides public pre-kindergarten, Maryland also has early learning centers called Judy Centers which are located in Title 1 school districts. There are also many advocates in the state who would like to expand preschool to include all 4-year-olds, regardless of income.
- What the governor is saying: In Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2014 State of the State Address he focused on expanding and advancing universal pre-K for the state and pledged to spearhead the effort. 2014 will be Gov. O’Malley’s last year in office, but the Maryland’s Capital News Service has highlighted that each of the seven major gubernatorial candidates “favor expanding pre-K, but vary in their plan, end goal and payment means.”
- What’s happening in the legislature: In spring 2014, after the Maryland Legislature approved additional funding to expand pre-K classes to an additional 1,600 children from low-income families, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation which proposed expanding access to pre-K into law.
- Funding increases and additional support: The legislation to expand access to preschool that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in the spring included $4.3 million in next year’s budget to fund the expansion. Additionally, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced that the city’s Head Start programs would provide longer days and an extended school year. Later, two business leaders wrote in the Baltimore Sun that they endorsed expanding pre-K access to all four-year-olds considering the benefits it would have for the state.