The Need for Preschool in Seattle

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Preschool for all plan
City Council Chambers was packed yesterday as councilmembers heard more compelling evidence from national experts on the immediate and long-term benefits for children and society when cities invest in high-quality preschool. While national expert Dr. Steven Barnett presented similar preschool benefits to the Council in June 2013, yesterday’s presentation by Dr. Hirokazu Yoshikawa and Dr. Christina Weiland further validates those benefits with the most recent research. They also showed a powerful video about Boston’s preschool program.

Tomorrow, my committee will receive a report on the findings of the “Gap Analysis” commissioned by the Council, which shows how many 3- and 4-year-old children are enrolled in formal preschool care. We’ll also hear about how the City’s Office for Education plans to conduct community outreach around the Preschool for All initiative.

In transmitting the Gap Analysis to the Council, Mayor Murray wrote, “I want to emphasize my commitment to Seattle being a place that is affordable for working families and where excellence in education of our children is a cornerstone of building a vibrant city for the future. This report reinforces my concern, a concern I know you share, that there is much work to do to make affordable quality preschool available for all.…This data should motivate us to do better.…I look forward to working with the Council on this exciting initiative and am pleased to present this key report.”

Approximately 12,280 3- and 4-year-old children live in Seattle. Using two data sources, our consultants have estimated that between 63% and 73% of these are currently enrolled in formal preschool. Conversely, between 3,280 and 4,480 3 and 4 year olds are not in formal preschool care (see chart below).

Preschool enrollment chart

And here is another interesting map that shows where households with young children are concentrated around the city:

Density map young children

Join us in Council Chambers tomorrow or tune into the Seattle Channel at 9:30 a.m. to learn more.