What's happening with Preschool for All? Here's a progress report halfway through this year.
Preschool for All has opened 718 slots in its first year. The original Year 1 goal was 500 slots. Each year the number of slots will increase until there is a publicly funded preschool slot available for every interested family in 2030.
Growing the number of slots over time has always been part of the Preschool for All plan. It takes time to build a new system. There are not enough classrooms or teachers right now for universal preschool.
Providers are reimbursed $15,000 to $21,000 a slot, depending on their calendar (year-round or school-year) and schedule (full day or school day).
Because the system is based on volatile personal income taxes, and will grow every year, the County has multiple fiscal stability strategies in place, including saving money in these early years when the number of slots is lower. This strategy is called revenue smoothing and the graph below shows how the fund balance (blue line) goes up at first when there are fewer seats and decreases as the number of slots grows.
Taxes are funding more than slots and the math isn’t as simple as taking revenue and dividing it by the number of children. Preschool for All is a system that has to grow quickly. We must make investments that will create a foundation for future growth and increase the number of preschool slots in Multnomah County. The program launched during a low point in preschool availability and staffing due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on early childhood education systems. Preschool for All includes funding for workforce development, preschool facilities, professional development and early childhood mental health.