Young Learners, Missed Opportunities: Ensuring that Black and Latino Children Have Access to High-Quality State-Funded Preschool

Research Rundown Issue: January '20
Publisher: The Education Trust
Date Published: November '19


In a first-of-its-kind analysis, The Education Trust examined preschool access and quality for black and Latino three- and four-year-olds. Of the 26 states they analyzed, none of them provided black and Latino children with sufficient access to high-quality programs. Only 1% of Latino and 4% of black students were enrolled in high-quality state-funded preschool programs. And even among those who were enrolled in state-funded programs, only 4% of Latino and 13% of black students were enrolled in high-quality programs.

The report also provided recommendations for how states can improve access to high-quality preschool programs, including prioritizing expansion to historically underserved communities, publishing meaningful equity data, targeted communications, supporting dual language learners, and making enrollment easy.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

Minnesota was not captured in the Education Trust report because good, comparable data was not available. However, we know that the trends here are similar. A 2018 report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) found that the array of early childhood programs is “complex and fragmented” and that this creates “burdens for families, which may result in lower access to needed services.” The report addressed the lack of key data, and the challenges this causes for measuring program access and effectiveness.

In order to know if preschool programs are effectively serving our most underserved communities, having good and comprehensive data is critical. The OLA report recommended that the Minnesota Department of Education should collect better data on early childhood access and screening. The report also recommended that the Legislature should consider aligning funding and eligibility to make programs more efficient and understandable. Policymakers should consider the OLA recommendations and work to make Minnesota’s early childhood programs more accessible for traditionally underserved students.

Read the full report