Report: Low-Income Children Underserved by Pre-K in Fairfax County

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    A new report finds hundreds of 4-year-olds in Fairfax County cannot get into pre-kindergarten programs.

    The Mission: Readiness report looks at the access to pre-kindergarten programs in the D.C. area.

    In Fairfax County, 56 percent of eligible, low-income children are not served by pre-kindergarten programs, and 890 children are on a waiting list, according to the report. The county regularly loses state money because it doesn't match state funding, said Mission: Readiness, a group of retired admirals and generals who believe high quality pre-kindergarten programs help children succeed in school, which ultimately leads to a stronger country.

    “We were pleasantly surprised by the many counties that are getting all their eligible 4-year-olds into pre-school type of programs here,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, of Mission: Readiness. “We’re disappointed that Fairfax County has almost 900 4-year-olds that can’t get into the program simply because the county does not match the funds that the state provides.”

    While admitting that the numbers are accurate, Fairfax County officials noted that the county has steadily increased the number of children in the program from 768 in 2008 to more than 1,100 currently.

    In Alexandria, 10 percent of eligible children aren’t served, with 50 on a waiting list, and in Arlington, all 537 state-funded slots for eligible children are filled.

    In Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, all eligible, low-income children are served, according to the report.

    D.C. has universal eligibility with most 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds enrolled, but some programs do have waiting lists.

    CLICK HERE to see the report.