RELEASE: Launch of Washington’s Universal Preschool Program Has Dramatically Boosted the City’s Maternal Labor Force Participation
Washington, D.C. — In 2009, the District of Columbia began offering two years of universal, full-day preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds living in the district. Today, the Center for American Progress released an unprecedented report examining the effects this program has had on boosting maternal labor force participation. Key findings from the report include:
- Since 2009, the city’s maternal labor force participation rate has increased by about 12 percentage points, with 10 percentage points specifically attributable to preschool expansion. This represents a larger boost to maternal labor force participation than the gains realized in countries with robust early education programs.
- District of Columbia mothers with young children now participate in the labor force at about the same rate as district mothers whose children are in elementary school.
- Maternal labor force participation increased among low-income families, as well as for high-income families. However, the greatest gains were made among unmarried mothers, mothers without a high school degree, mothers living in poverty, and black mothers.
- Women with young children also saw large increases in employment, with boosts to full-time work for married women and part-time work for unmarried women.
“Many have documented the benefits of early childhood education on school readiness and healthy child development, but this report shows that expanding access to these programs can also improve maternal labor force participation, narrow gender wealth disparities, and promote economic growth,” said Rasheed Malik, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress.
This report comes on the heels of new polling that finds nearly 8 in 10 voters support increasing funding for quality, affordable child care or other early childhood education programs.
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.741.6292.