Budget Proposal Would Expand Preschool Eligibility

Feb 16, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- More low-income Kentucky families would be able to send their child to public preschool under a plan to expand eligibility requirements.

Half-day preschool programs are currently open to 4-year-olds in families with income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. In his budget proposal, Governor Steve Beshear would raise that income cap to 160 percent of the poverty level.

"Kids are learning how to use their bodies, those gross and fine motor skills. They're learning social skills to get along with each other and to work with the teachers, as well as pre-academic skills like colors and numbers that they'll need to have to be ready when they start kindergarten," says Terry Tolan, executive director of the Governor's Office of Early Childhood.

An estimated 4,400 additional children would be eligible for public preschool under the proposed income guidelines, which would cost the state $15 million. Beshear wants to eventually expand the income eligibility to 200% of the federal poverty level.

Kids ages 3 and 4 with developmental disabilities can also enroll in Kentucky preschool programs, regardless of income.