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High-Cost Preschool Limits Enrollment

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon ranks as the second most expensive state for public preschools in the country.

The high cost of preschool is forcing the state to limit the number of three and four-year-old children enrolled in preschool programs, like Head Start.

Preschool is important for childhood development; but as the cost of educating children goes up, the number of kids that can utilize the Head Start program is going down.

Head Start is designed to help low-income families with early childhood schooling; it’s only able to help out 7 percent of all three and four-year-olds in the state.

Oregon ranks 30th out of 40 states for providing state-paid preschool programs for four-year-old children. Preschools in Lane County say the numbers that came out of the study are confusing.

“It made me have more questions, like well what do they mean? Which part of it? It’s just really difficult to compare a federally state-funded Head Start program to typical full-day childcare,” said Michelle Lang, Parkside Community Preschool Director.

Oregon spends nearly $8,500 per half day per student, which has decreased $2,500 over the past 10 years.

Now sequestration cuts could force more students out of Head Start. The federal budget for the next year was cut by nearly 5 percent last month.

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