- Atlanta, Chicago and Oklahoma City are among the nine cities awarded gold medals for having high-quality preschool programs as part of an initiative of CityHealth and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
- To reach gold status, the cities had to meet at least eight of NIEER’s 10 quality benchmarks and be serving at least 30% of their population of 4-year-olds. The other six top awards went to Albuquerque, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, New York, San Antonio and San Francisco.
- Austin, Kansas City, Missouri, Portland, Seattle and Virginia Beach received silver awards for also meeting at least eight benchmarks, but not meeting the enrollment threshold. And 16 cities reached the bronze level for enrolling more than 30% of eligible children, but not meeting enough quality standards.
In all, the report shows 34 out of 40 major cities across the nation now provide a preschool program, with many using local sources of revenue to pay for the programs and setting standards higher than those for state-funded programs.
“When cities leverage proven methods to create high-impact programs for young residents, and then make investments to open access, it creates a healthier new generation, and better communities for everyone,” Shelley Hearne, the president of CityHealth, said in a press release.
City Health, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, rates cities in nine policy areas. In addition to early-childhood education, other areas include affordable housing and food safety.
The report also builds on NIEER’s earlier work that identified several U.S. cities — which have greater concentrations of children that lack access to preschool — as “preschool champions” for increasing their emphasis on early learning.