Young Learners, Missed Opportunities

Across the nation, far too few Black and Latino children attend a high-quality state-funded preschool

In a first-of-its-kind analysis examining race and ethnicity in state-funded preschool programs, The Education Trust found that only 1 percent of Latino children and 4 percent of Black children were enrolled in high-quality state preschool programs. The analysis, which examines data from 26 states where enrollment is reported by race and ethnicity, found that no state truly provided high-quality and high-access for Black and Latino 3- and 4-year-olds.

How well is your state serving its Black and Latino 3- and 4-year-olds?

Scroll over the scatterplot to see how each state is doing then click the dot to learn more (If you are viewing on a mobile device, tap the dot once for more information, and a second time to be taken to the state profile.)

[{"x":9,"y":39,"name":"WEST VIRGINIA","abbr":"WV"},{"x":8,"y":13,"name":"WASHINGTON","abbr":"WA"},{"x":4,"y":38,"name":"TEXAS","abbr":"TX"},{"x":7,"y":33,"name":"SOUTH CAROLINA","abbr":"SC"},{"x":10,"y":10,"name":"RHODE ISLAND","abbr":"RI"},{"x":7.5,"y":24,"name":"OREGON","abbr":"OR"},{"x":9,"y":31,"name":"OKLAHOMA","abbr":"OK"},{"x":8,"y":16,"name":"NORTH CAROLINA","abbr":"NC"},{"x":9,"y":19,"name":"NEW MEXICO","abbr":"NM"},{"x":6,"y":11,"name":"NEVADA","abbr":"NV"},{"x":8,"y":29,"name":"NEBRASKA","abbr":"NE"},{"x":9,"y":4,"name":"MISSISSIPPI","abbr":"MS"},{"x":10,"y":27,"name":"MICHIGAN","abbr":"MI"},{"x":6.2,"y":27,"name":"MASSACHUSETTS","abbr":"MA"},{"x":7,"y":28,"name":"MARYLAND","abbr":"MD"},{"x":9,"y":30,"name":"MAINE","abbr":"ME"},{"x":7,"y":14,"name":"KENTUCKY","abbr":"KY"},{"x":7.9,"y":35,"name":"IOWA","abbr":"IA"},{"x":8,"y":33,"name":"ILLINOIS","abbr":"IL"},{"x":7,"y":0,"name":"HAWAII","abbr":"HI"},{"x":8,"y":36,"name":"GEORGIA","abbr":"GA"},{"x":3,"y":103,"name":"DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA","abbr":"DC"},{"x":5,"y":28,"name":"COLORADO","abbr":"CO"},{"x":4.3,"y":28,"name":"CALIFORNIA","abbr":"CA"},{"x":8,"y":37,"name":"ARKANSAS","abbr":"AR"},{"x":10,"y":21,"name":"ALABAMA","abbr":"AL"}]
[{"x":9,"y":24,"name":"WEST VIRGINIA","abbr":"WV"},{"x":8,"y":13,"name":"WASHINGTON","abbr":"WA"},{"x":4,"y":37,"name":"TEXAS","abbr":"TX"},{"x":7,"y":28,"name":"SOUTH CAROLINA","abbr":"SC"},{"x":10,"y":6,"name":"RHODE ISLAND","abbr":"RI"},{"x":7.5,"y":17,"name":"OREGON","abbr":"OR"},{"x":9,"y":31,"name":"OKLAHOMA","abbr":"OK"},{"x":8,"y":15,"name":"NORTH CAROLINA","abbr":"NC"},{"x":9,"y":16,"name":"NEW MEXICO","abbr":"NM"},{"x":6,"y":0.1,"name":"NEVADA","abbr":"NV"},{"x":8,"y":28,"name":"NEBRASKA","abbr":"NE"},{"x":9,"y":1,"name":"MISSISSIPPI","abbr":"MS"},{"x":10,"y":20,"name":"MICHIGAN","abbr":"MI"},{"x":6.2,"y":28,"name":"MASSACHUSETTS","abbr":"MA"},{"x":7,"y":27,"name":"MARYLAND","abbr":"MD"},{"x":9,"y":17,"name":"MAINE","abbr":"ME"},{"x":7,"y":14,"name":"KENTUCKY","abbr":"KY"},{"x":7.9,"y":33,"name":"IOWA","abbr":"IA"},{"x":8,"y":30,"name":"ILLINOIS","abbr":"IL"},{"x":7,"y":1,"name":"HAWAII","abbr":"HI"},{"x":8,"y":31,"name":"GEORGIA","abbr":"GA"},{"x":3,"y":61,"name":"DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA","abbr":"DC"},{"x":5,"y":25,"name":"COLORADO","abbr":"CO"},{"x":4.3,"y":31,"name":"CALIFORNIA","abbr":"CA"},{"x":8,"y":28,"name":"ARKANSAS","abbr":"AR"},{"x":10,"y":9,"name":"ALABAMA","abbr":"AL"}]

Select one or more states from the list below. The first five states you select will be highlighted using different colors in the plot below.

States excluded from our analysis

Five states were excluded for reporting only some race and ethnicity data; fourteen states for not reporting any race and ethnicity data; and six states for not providing a state-funded preschool program.

Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Click on the map the right to see why each state was excluded.

Brightspots in State Early Childhood Education Programs


What makes Georgia noteworthy:

Georgia provides high access for Black and Latino 4-year-olds (60%) while still meeting a relatively high number of NIEER quality benchmarks (8 out of 10).


What makes Illinois noteworthy:

Illinois provides the highest access for 3-year-old Black and Latino children of the 26 states we analyzed, while still meeting a relatively high number of NIEER quality benchmarks (8 out of 10).


What makes Oklahoma noteworthy:

Oklahoma provides relatively high access and high quality for Black and Latino 4-year-olds. The state’s preschool program serves just over 60% of its Black and Latino 4-year-olds.

West Virginia

What makes West Virginia noteworthy:

West Virginia provides access to 75% of its Black 4-year-olds and 47% of its Latino 4-year-olds, meets 9 out of 10 of NIEER’s quality benchmarks, and is available in all counties. The state offers preschool to all 4-year-olds.

Be the First to Know!

Sign Up for Updates from Ed Trust

How can ECE programs be improved to improve equity?

Read our analysis and recommendations for improving ECE programs in 26 states.

High-quality early childhood education (ECE) is essential to a strong, early start. Lifelong benefits associated with high-quality ECE include higher employment, better health and better cognitive and social-emotional skills. But systemic racism causes opportunity gaps for Black and Latino children starting in ECE programs. How can ECE programs be improved to improve equity and begin to counter systemic racism?

For more details on these recommendations, download the full report.

Background of The Education Trust’s Analysis

Ed Trust examined accessibility and quality of state-funded preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-old Black and Latino children during the 2017-2018 school year. While access to preschool programs is often analyzed by family income level, there is insufficient information on children of color’s access to high-quality preschool programs.

We measured access by calculating the percentage of a state’s Black or Latino 3- and 4-year-old population who were enrolled in its state preschool program. To examine program quality, we used the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) minimum quality standards benchmark rating, which consists of 10 benchmarks that represent research-based process quality standards for effective ECE.

We took a close look at state-funded preschool programs for two main reasons: First, states play an important role in providing and funding preschool, and state leaders have the power to improve the access and quality of these programs. Second, it is one of the only ways to compare access to high-quality ECE for Black and Latino families across states

Download the full report above to explore all six of our major findings and eleven policy recommendations for increasing equity in early childhood education programs.

Technical Methodology Note

We chose 40 percent and higher enrollment as the green zone because the 90th percentile of enrollment for all state programs for all 3- and 4-year-olds is 37 percent. Therefore, the green zone represents states that enroll Black and/or Latino children at rates above the 90th percentile. This does not mean we believe that 40 percent enrollment is sufficient – until we have closed achievement gaps for Black and Latino students, we should be pushing to increase Black and Latino access to high quality early childhood education opportunities.