Colorado falls behind on preschool spending

Posted at 12:23 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 14:23:31-04

A new study says Colorado is 41st in the country for state spending on preschool.

"The first 5 years of life really set the foundation for later success or failure," says Steve Barnett, a director with the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

On Thursday, NIEER released its annual report on preschool access and funding in every state.  The report shows in 20,701 children were enrolled in state funded preschool in 2014-2015, an increase of 6,167 from the previous year.

However, Colorado made no progress on quality standards, meeting 6 of NIEER’s 10 minimum quality standards benchmarks.

There was a 12 percent increase in state spending in 2014-2015, an increase of over $5.6 million when adjusted for inflation. However Colorado still ranks 41st in the nation for spending on preschool. In 2014-2015, Colorado spent $2,001 per student in preschool.

Lance Hostetter, a spokesperson for the Colorado Preschool Program says Colorado faces an uphill battle when it comes to education funding, due in part to restrictions imposed by TABOR.  He adds that the Colorado Department of Education works with community partners and stakeholders to ensure that early childhood professionals have access to professional development and resources to improve the effectiveness of the early childhood education workforce.

NIEER says state funded preschool is especially important for children from low income families, and English language learners. "Ensuring that every child has access to high-quality preschool can help pave the way for their success in school, on the job, and in Colorado communities," says Steve Barnett. "While Colorado continues to support state pre-K, the state needs to be more aggressive in expanding both program access and quality standards."

The State of Preschool 2015 report can be found online at


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