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State Support of Preschool for 4-year-olds From Low-Income Families Proposed

State funding would support full-day preschool for children from low-income households under legislation eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate, The state’s voluntary preschool program for four year olds provides state funding for 10 hours of preschool per week. The bill would provide state funding to support 20 hours of preschool each week for children whose parents have a yearly income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Senator Lynn Evans, a Republican from Aurelia, says many school districts offer full day preschool, but have to find other ways to finance it. Some are charging tuition, but Evans says that means children from low-income families are left out.

Evans says the proposal has the potential to close the achievement gap for some students.

Representative Henry Stone, a Republican from Forest City, introduced a similar bill in the Iowa House that offered schools state funding to support all-day preschool for four-year-olds from low-income households.

Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, supports the bill, but he’s like to go farther and have full-day, state-funded preschool for all Iowa four-year-olds.

Senator Sarah Trone-Garriott, a Democrat from Waukee, would also like to see full day state-funded preschool for all four-year-olds, but she voted for the bill to support preschool for children from low income households.

The bill cleared the Senate Education Commitee this week but did not come up for a vote in the House Education Committee.

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