RELEASE: CAP Says Benefits of Universal Preschool Total $83 Billion

Washington, D.C. — The economic benefits of high-quality universal preschool are estimated to be more than $83 billion per year, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress. In other words, every year that policymakers delay a universal preschool investment, the United States loses billions of dollars that come from preschool’s economic benefits and a significant opportunity to save taxpayer dollars.

Despite uneven access to preschool across the country, the number of children enrolled in preschool in the United States is growing and the benefits are clear. Studies show that high-quality preschool works, and that children who attend preschool are more academically and socially prepared for kindergarten than their peers who did not attend. Preschool also has significant effects on high school graduation.

“Research shows over and over again that preschool is both cost-effective and that students are better prepared to contribute to the economy in the long run. All children deserve access to high-quality preschool—no matter where they live—and failing to make it accessible means losing significant economic benefits in the long run,” said Cristina Novoa, a policy analyst for Early Childhood Policy at CAP.

“More families should have access to high-quality preschool, ensuring healthier families and a healthier workforce. CAP’s report showing an $83 billion-a-year boon from universal preschool makes it clear that we are leaving valuable resources on the table by failing to act,” said Katie Hamm, the vice president for Early Childhood Policy at CAP.

States with less developed preschool programs stand to gain the most from universal pre-K, especially those with large populations. For example, by increasing California’s preschool enrollment to serve 75 percent of children and improving program quality, CAP estimates that California could see an additional $9.7 billion in total benefits over its estimated current benefits of $2.7 billion.

Even with some states already making investments in preschool, CAP estimates that the United States could gain an additional $56.2 billion on top of current economic benefits expanding access to high-quality preschool.

Click here to read “The Cost of Inaction on Universal Preschool” by Cristina Novoa and Katie Hamm.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Devon Kearns at 202.741.6290 or dkearns@americanprogress.org.