Nine: Delivering high-quality early childhood education and care to low-income children: How well is the US doing?

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This chapter examines the extent to which disadvantaged children are able to access high quality early childhood education and care in the US. It describes the split in responsibilities between federal and state (and local) governments, and underlines the key role played by the private sector, including for-profit providers. Significant disparities in enrolment are evident, with low income children and children of immigrants less likely than their peers to be enrolled, and less likely to be in formal school or centre based care. Low income children also attend care of lower average quality than that attended by higher income children. The authors discuss current policy initiatives to reduce disparities including efforts to expand and improve the federal Head Start program for low income children, federal and state quality improvement efforts, and state and local expansions of prekindergarten programs serving three and four year olds.

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