In Alaska, 3 percent of 4-year-olds are served by state-funded preschool and 853 children under the age of three are enrolled in Early Head Start. The quality of these existing programs has received high marks, meeting all 10 of the pre-K quality benchmark standards established by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). However, state leaders, business leaders and lawmakers are advocating for change and expressing desire to expand early childhood education to more children in the state. Additionally, the average annual cost of center-based infant care in the state can be up to $10,338.
- What state leaders are saying: Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles has urged lawmakers to focus on “educational investments that experts agree are critical,” advising that early learning is one of those investments. Along with nonprofit organization Alaska’s Best Beginnings and The United Way in Anchorage, Knowles has been a leader in calling for Alaska to commit to making investments in pre-K because it “pays long-term rewards of success in high school graduation, college attendance, and employment.”
- What business leaders are saying: The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce has promoted expanding pre-K education as a top priority for building a skilled and educated workforce in Alaska. Andrew Halcro, president of the Chamber, has expressed that 35 percent of kindergarteners in the Anchorage School District are starting school behind. He advocates delivering effective pre-K for improving educational outcomes and better preparing students for college or career.