IT'S TIME FOR A FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN OPTION FOR ALL UTAH FAMILIES
The Utah Full-Day Kindergarten Now Campaign supports HB193, "Full-Day Kindergarten," sponsored by Rep. Steve Waldrip, which proposes a three-year plan to expand state funding for optional FDK programming, for all families that want to participate.
When we invest in early learning opportunities for our children, we ensure positive outcomes for our entire state. For every dollar we spend on positive interventions for young children, we can save up to $12 in future public spending.
That's a major reason why the Utah State Board of Education has prioritized full-day kindergarten (FDK) expansion among its top three most important legislative initiatives for the 2022 General Session, and why FDK expansion is included in Governor Spencer Cox's budget proposal (on page 33) for the upcoming fiscal year, as well!
Full-day kindergarten (FDK) is a time-tested, evidence-based early learning practice that can give children from all backgrounds a strong and equitable start in school. Unfortunately, less than one-third (30%) of Utah kindergartners currently participate in FDK programming - while the national average for FDK participation is 82%.
The reason for Utah's dismal FDK participation rate is simple: access is limited and inequitable across our state. With limited funding available, most districts and charter schools are able to offer FDK instruction to only the most academically at-risk students, leaving out thousands of other children who also would benefit.
It's time to offer Utah parents a real choice when it comes to their children's kindergarten education! It's time for HB193 Full-Day Kindergarten!
- Kids in FDK make greater learning gains.
Utah kids in FDK (full-day kindergarten) regularly perform 2 to 4 times better than their HDK (half-day kindergarten) peers with regards to basic kindergarten proficiencies.
Students have more time to learn and practice with new skills.
Teachers have more time to understand students' unique strengths and challenges.
- FDK better prepares students for first grade.
Children are able to "practice" school activities such as lunch hour and assemblies.
Teachers have time to guide students through daily transitions, with developmentally-appropriate "down time" as needed.
Students grow their abilities to play, share and resolve conflict with peers.
- FDK is an important early learning investment that saves time and money down the road.
Special learning needs are able to be assessed and addressed early.
A strong foundation of literacy means fewer special reading interventions at older ages.
Students who participate in FDK achieve greater long-term academic outcomes.
- FDK provides families with a full-day of high-quality, age-appropriate learning in a safe environment.
Children without sufficient learning support at home can catch up to peers before first grade.
Multi-kid families are able to better coordinate pick-up, drop-off and after school activities.
Kindergarteners who have food insecurities have access to two healthy meals each school day.
- All children deserve the chance to make a full year of progress in kindergarten!
Where a family lives should not be the primary factor that determines whether their child can participate in FDK.
FDK is beneficial for all students and particularly effective for students facing high risk factors for future academic failure (intergenerational poverty, multilingual households and special academic needs).
FDK helps to bridge gaps in educational attainment between different groups of students.
A STABLE FUNDING SOURCE SCHOOLS CAN COUNT ON
Budgeting for equitable access to Full-Day Kindergarten programs
Many districts and charter schools would like to offer FDK programming to more families in their communities. However, most do not have a reliable source of funding to do so. Unless schools can cobble together enough money from various federal, state and local sources to cover the costs, the families in their communities are out of luck.
In order to justify hiring more kindergarten teachers, making space in their buildings and investing in professional development, schools need to know that they can count on state funding that won't be cut on a whim.
Three-Year Expansion Plan
Full-day kindergarten must be part of Utah's baseline education budget, funded in the same way that every other grade is funded, and reliably supported with state education dollars every year.
The current estimated cost of FDK program expansion to all Utah kindergarteners is approximately $65 million. However, because FDK participation is voluntary, and some families will continue to utilize half-day options, the actual cost may be less.
Because not every district or charter school can immediately expand their programs to include all interested families, this cost should be phased into the state education budget over three years. Many schools need time to create additional classroom space, hire additional staff and appropriately develop their curriculum for additional instruction hours.
Available and Optional: Flexibility for Families and Schools
The Utah Full-Day Kindergarten Now Campaign is focused on increasing access to this valuable early education opportunity. We believe that participation in FDK should be optional for families, and that each district and charter school should have the flexibility to decide on the appropriate mix of full- and half-day programming that best meets their community's needs.
References and Handouts
Vote YES on HB193 Informational Flier
HB193, "Full-Day Kindergarten" Bill Text
JLC Three-Year Legislative Priorities
PTA 2021-22 Legislative Priorities
Kindergarten KEEP Report
Business Case presented to the Utah State Board of Education in support of FDK three-year expansion plan
Policy brief outlines current state of FDK access in Utah, info on popularity among voters, and evidence of academic benefits
UEA 2022 budget priorities