AIR offers practical methods and tools to estimate the local cost of implementing a quality preschool program on a "system-wide" basis, such as within a county, a city, or one or more school districts. Developing a plan for phasing in preschool is an important part of the planning process. AIR offers a number of resources, including the County Preschool Cost Estimator (click here to get more information on the County Preschool Cost Estimator and to download the tool). The Cost Estimator is a user-friendly tool to assess the cost of phasing in access to preschool at the local level, as well as statewide. The Cost Estimator is individualized, allowing users to estimate the cost of a program available to all, or for a more targeted initiative, such as a program focused on children in low API school attendance areas, Title I school neighborhoods, or children from low-income families. In addition, the tool can be used to estimate the cost of implementing preschool at various projected participation rates and timeframes for implementation. The Cost Estimator also incorporates inflation, population growth, and infrastructure, such as facilities and workforce development. AIR would like to thank a number of organizations and individuals for their contributions to the development of the Preschool Cost Estimator (click here for the list of contributors).
In addition, data from the county needs assessments can be used to determine the number of new and upgraded spaces needed countywide and in high-need areas such as those with low Academic Performance Index (API) schools. These data, along with budgets to estimate the cost per child, can be used to estimate total cost and determine the timeframe to phase in access to a quality preschool program for all 4-year-olds.
NEW as of Spring 2009! AIR has two new policy briefs related to budget and planning:
1. The first, First 5 Power of Preschool: Lessons from an Experiment in Tiered Reimbursement, describes the variations in reimbursement rates in the nine PoP counties; examines the cost basis underlying the rates to determine whether a sound rationale exists for the variations across counties; compares the PoP rates to the reimbursement rates for Title 5 programs and voucher care in California, and previous cost estimates for quality preschool at the state level; and recommends appropriate criteria for preschool cost reimbursements.
2. A second policy brief, Financing a Full-Day, Full-Year Preschool Program in California: Strategies and Recommendations, examines the true cost of a high-quality, full-day, full-year program serving preschool-age children; compares the existing reimbursement rates and rate structures for full-day, full-year state-funded programs serving preschool children; considers the impact of changes in duration and quality levels on the cost of a preschool program; illustrates the benefits of leveraging First 5 Power of Preschool demonstration project funds - and potentially other finance sources - to augment the Standard Reimbursement Rate for General Child Care to finance a full-day program; and provides recommendations for developing criteria for appropriate cost reimbursement of a full-day, full-year program serving preschool-age children.
AIR offers a range of other tools and resources which can be downloaded below.