Informing Investments in High-Quality Preschool
With a new administration in the White House, Congress is expected to reexamine spending on domestic programs. Analyses of the costs and benefits of programs can help provide important information in these debates.
In this congressional briefing, RAND senior economist, Lynn Karoly, presents findings from her research, which compiles the most reliable evidence concerning the short- and long-run effects of high-quality preschool programs for participating children and the associated costs, benefits, and economic returns. Specifically, Karoly discusses:
- Does preschool work? What benefits do rigorous evaluations of full-scale preschool programs show, and which of these benefits persist?
- What return on investment can be expected from preschool programs?
- What features of preschool programs are critical to realizing these benefits?
- What challenges to high-quality preschool remain?
Quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) have now been almost universally adopted as an important tool to boost ECE program quality. For the second generation of QRISs, states will need to be more strategic about the allocation of funds to achieve their goals of expanding access to and improving the quality of ECE programs.
Cincinnati is seeking to expand preschool programs to more children. A number of approaches would likely provide returns on investment, but it is important to ensure programs are high-quality.
There is strong evidence of large potential economic returns to investing in high quality early childhood programs, but that doesn't mean that every program will generate equally large returns. Many programs likely have a “threshold” of quality and intensity that needs to be achieved in order to register positive returns.
In this media conference call, RAND experts on early childhood development and education explain the importance of early childhood development in laying the foundation for success later in life, as well as the potential for high-quality programs to yield a return on investment for society at large.