One of the more staggering education statistics to transpire in recent years is that, in most states, daycare actually costs more than tuition and fees at a public four-year college. The finding, which is based on a 2013 report by Child Care Aware America, specifically refers to the care of an infant—but the high costs of caring for and educating children continue until they enter kindergarten. That’s largely because, compared to the K-12 and higher-ed sectors, there are relatively few public prekindergarten options in the United States to choose from.
The staggering price of preschool means it’s largely open only to wealthier families—even though a new poll suggests that an overwhelming majority of America’s adults agree that the country should ensure more children have access to quality learning in their first five years of life. In the same poll, a plurality of them even went so far as to say that Americans should invest more in early education than in college.
The survey was commissioned by the First Five Years Fund, a group that advocates for more federal spending on early-childhood education, and conducted in early September among 800 voters by a bipartisan team of polling companies. And it shows that, unlike so many other education issues, the push for greater investment in early-childhood learning has broad support from people in both parties. When asked whether they supported allocating federal dollars to states and local communities to provide better early childhood education, 94 percent of Democrats said yes, but so did 59 percent of Republicans. Similar percentages said the country should be doing more to ensure kids start kindergarten with the necessary skills, while roughly nine in 10 respondents said it’s important to make “early education and child care more affordable for working families to give children a strong start.”