In Mississippi, 2,150 children under the age of three are enrolled in Early Head Start programs, and 11,781 three-year olds and 16,276 four-year olds are enrolled in Head Start programs. Additionally, the average annual cost of center-based infant care in the state is $4,863. This year, Mississippi is working on plans to develop and fund the state’s first preschool program.
- What the governor is saying: In Gov. Phil Bryant’s State of the State Address, he expressed support for efforts like Building Blocks that focus on providing high-quality early learning opportunities. His budget also reflected funding for such efforts. In addition to highlighting last year’s legislative efforts including establishing “a collaborative pre-K learning program” and funding Mississippi Building Blocks, Bryant encouraged the legislature to implement a broader merit pay system and fund reading coaches in high-need classrooms.
- Funding increases and additional support: This year, Mississippi started providing public funding for state pre-K. The state’s new $3 million in grants for a pilot preschool program provides more than 2,000 students in 66 sites with preschool in the 2014 school year. The program, which will be implemented in three phases over several years, may receive up to $33.9 million to expand pre-K programs in the state. Due to the need for additional support for its pre-K programs, the Obama administration plans to use its $250 million in new early learning funding to offer “Expansion Grants” to states like Mississippi. State Superintendent Carey Wright also called for more money for state pre-K.