PAWTUCKET, RI - At Nathanael Greene Elementary today, Governor Raimondo announced details of her plan for universal Pre-K in Rhode Island. She was joined by Mark Shriver, President of Save the Children Action Network, as well as local leaders and educators.
"Universal Pre-K is one of the best investments we can make," said Governor Raimondo. "We know that Pre-K education is critical for a child's development, yet too many families lack access to a high-quality program. By expanding Pre-K, we'll ensure that every Rhode Island child has a strong foundation to get them on the right path."
During her State of the State address, Governor Raimondo committed to bringing universal Pre-K to Rhode Island. Today, she announced that her FY 2020 budget will include $10 million to increase the number of public Pre-K seats by fall 2019 while maintaining the highest level of quality. During her first term, Governor Raimondo tripled the number of state Pre-K seats to 1080. Through a mixed-delivery system, the Governor's proposal would add an additional 540 seats in the next year -- a 50% increase. By the end of her second term, there will be 7,000 public Pre-K seats in Rhode Island.
"By age 5, a child's brain is almost fully developed, yet too many 4-year-olds across Rhode Island lack access to quality pre-K education. With her plan to provide universal pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds in Rhode Island, Governor Raimondo is building a strong foundation so that all kids can have a strong start in life," said SCAN CEO Mark Shriver.
Rhode Island has received national recognition for having one of the highest-quality Pre-K programs in the country, as one of only three states to meet all ten of the National Institute of Early Education Research's benchmark standards. In 2018, US News & World Report ranked Rhode Island's Pre-K program as the best in the country.
Pre-K programs are demonstrated to have a significant effect on educational outcomes, particularly for low-income students, and are critical in helping to close the achievement gap. Students who attend Pre-K are more likely to have higher reading skills by third grade than those who don't.
Studies show that universal Pre-K programs can yield as much as $8.90 in benefits for every dollar invested. Investments in Pre-K pay off down the road with increased high school graduation rates, increased educational attainment and increased lifetime earnings.