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Impact of Pre-K vital to L.A. County and Local Economies Concludes New Study

LOS ANGELES, CA – According to a new report, More Than Just Pre-K: The Positive Economic Impact of Preschool in Los Angeles County, released by the Institute for Child Success and LAUP, high quality preschool not only prepares developing children for school success but significantly impacts local economies that support the current and future Los Angeles County workforce.

While the academic benefits of preschool are well documented, few studies attempt to measure the local economic impact that early care and education programs have on communities. The findings of this new report break down the economic impact at the parent, child and provider levels both in the short and long term.

“We knew that quality preschool had a huge impact on young children’s growth socially, emotionally and academically,” said Dr. Celia C. Ayala, LAUP CEO. “What this study shows is there are also substantial economic benefits to having a thriving preschool program in L.A. County.”

LAUP has prepared more than 115,000 children for kindergarten and beyond by funding, rating and raising the level of quality preschool programs throughout L.A. County thanks to a generous multi-year grant from First 5 LA. The report highlights the impact of LAUP on the County’s young – and often, highest-need – children, and the economic impact early learning has at the community and county-level.

“Over the last two years we have held a series of workshops for our providers to help them gain funding from a variety of sources,” said Ayala. “While we’re proud of our success finding funding for thousands of fully-subsidized preschool slots for 4-year-olds, the challenge in doing so speaks to a fundamental truth: to achieve universal access to quality early care and education opportunities in L.A. County, we need our policy makers to make young children a priority and invest accordingly.”

The report notes that children previously enrolled in LAUP-funded slots benefitted from the high-quality nature of instruction and saw immediate and sustained positive outcomes, including:

•  Significant growth in social, emotional and cognitive skills during the course of the pre-K year, all of which are essential for kindergarten success;

•  Higher scores than non-pre-K peers on both the Reading and Math California State Test in 2nd grade, and higher on the reading test in 3rd grade; and

•  In elementary school, decreased likelihood of being classified as special needs or English Language Learners, be suspended or repeat a grade, and overall greater levels of attendance.

The report defines the immediate and long-term local economic impact of quality pre-K slots in L.A. County. These findings include:

•  The inability to find reliable and affordable childcare results in lost wages and reduced employment and hours worked by parents. Without increasing public investment in pre-K in L.A. County, an estimated 6,000 working mothers would be affected; reducing their hours worked by over 1.5 million hours, resulting in $24.9 million annually in forgone wages.

•  The reduced outputs, lost wages, and higher public sector costs combined could cost L.A. County an estimated $567.7 million annually.

“Numerous research studies confirm that spending on high-quality early care and education is one of the best investments governments can make,” says Joe Waters, Executive Vice President of the Institute for Child Success, “High quality pre-K is a strong policy lever to use to combat issues associated with poverty and educational attainment that communities face.”

A recent RAND Corporation cost-benefit analysis estimated that every $1 invested in high-quality, half-day pre-K for low-income Los Angeles children generates $7.81 in benefits. Not investing with sustainable resources could cost Los Angeles an additional $462 million in forgone future benefits, asserts this report. These benefits span from improved public health to workforce productivity and reduced societal costs.

“We are proud of our collective work that has provided more than 115,000 children in Los Angeles County with quality preschool over our decade-long partnership,” said Kim Belshé, Executive Director of First 5 LA, a leading public grantmaking and early childhood advocacy organization that has provided LAUP with more than $580 million in funding over the last 10 years.

“As we both have learned, the need is greater than any one organization alone can address. We look forward to working in partnership with LAUP to advocate for sustainable funding to increase the availability and quality of early care and education services beyond 4-year-olds and for all of L.A. County’s 650,000 young children,” Belshé continued. “First 5 LA and LAUP have a shared vision for the future and we will build on our long-time partnership to champion broader access to quality early childhood education opportunities so that every child enters kindergarten ready to succeed.”

Belshé noted that First 5 LA is focused on improving laws and policies; increasing federal and state funding and resources; and improving the way key systems—like education, health and social services—work together and serve L.A. County’s young children and their families.

The report also found most of the nation’s most successful pre-K programs have one or more sustainable funding sources such as special financing districts, sales taxes, property taxes, selective excise taxes, pay-for-success financing and funding through public school funding formulas. Many of these strategies have the potential to succeed in L.A. County and should be explored, the report said.

LAUP, in conjunction with First 5 LA and the Early Care and Education (ECE) Coalition, is advocating for increasing state and federal funds to help bring more preschool opportunities to L.A. County.