Of the 40 largest cities in the country, only five offered pre-kindergarten programs that met high-quality and accessibility standards, according to the latest annual report from CityHealth, a project of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, and the National Institute for Early Education Research. While cities have been stepping up to create local funding for pre-K, the report found that few of those cities meet the benchmarks that make a program high-quality. And just 60 percent, including Houston, enrolled at least 30 percent of the city's 4-year-olds in the city's pre-K program.
The importance of early childhood education has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a public health issue. And research has linked pre-K participation with a range of improved outcomes, including better health outcomes, according to the CityHealth and NIEER report. “Forward-thinking city leaders realize that dedicating local funds for Pre-K access and quality improvements can improve the health of their cities," said Ellen Frede, senior co-Director of NIEER, in a statement about the report.