Providing access to voluntary, free, high-quality pre-kindergarten programs is a strategy proven to help close the achievement gaps that are noticeable even before children enter school and to provide increased educational opportunities for all students. Research shows that attending high quality early childhood education programs helps children develop important social and cognitive skills and knowledge that prepares them to succeed in school.
There is clear evidence of long-lasting benefits for children who participate in very high quality educationally focused early childhood programs. The benefits to children can also generate substantial government savings, including reduced need for special education services, reduced need for cash assistance and other public benefits as well as reduced rates of incarceration. In fact an analysis by economist Robert Lynch, from the Economic Policy Institute, predicts that:
“A public investment in providing high-quality prekindergarten to all Rhode Island children ages 3 and 4 would start paying for itself by generating cost savings within 9 years. By the year 2050, the ratio of total benefits to total costs would be 8 to 1.”
The Rhode Island Education Aid Foundation Formula approved in 2010 will take a phased-in approach to expanding access to high-quality Pre-K starting with communities that have a high proportion of children eligible for free and reduced price lunch. The phased-in approach will allow our state to ensure that Pre-K expansion creates high-quality learning programs, improves access for the students who need it the most, and assures a smooth transition between early childhood and K-12.
Technical Paper on Setting Expectations for Rhode Island's Youngest Children: Developing High-Quality Early Learning and Development Standards [PDF, 238KB]
2013-14 State Pre-Kindergarten Programs
The Rhode Island Pre-kindergarten Program, now in its 5th year, provides free, high-quality pre-kindergarten classes to eligible children. RIDE oversees the program. Statewide this year, 234 children are participating in thirteen pre-kindergarten classes.
The 2013-14 state pre-kindergarten lottery was held in August 2013. Enrollment for this school year is closed. Lottery applications for the 2014-2015 Pre-K school year will be posted on this page by July 2014. To be eligible, children must be 4 years old by September 1, 2014 and they must be residents of one of the identified communities. Children are selected for participation by lottery.
This year's participating programs are (in alphabetical order; please note: two sites are each operating two classrooms):
- Beautiful Beginnings Child Care
700 Elmwood Ave., Providence
- Central Falls School District
521 Dexter St., Central Falls
- CHILD, Inc. (two classrooms)
28 Payan St., West Warwick
- East Bay Community Action Program Head Start
8 John H. Chafee Blvd., Newport
- Imagine Preschool
400 East Ave., Warwick
- Mariposa Highlander Pre-K at the Wanskuck Boys and Girls Club
550 Branch Ave., Providence
- Ready to Learn Providence, at the Community College of Rhode Island
1 Hilton St., Providence
(Applications available at 945 Westminster St., Providence)
- Ready to Learn Providence @ Heritage Park YMCA Early Learning Center
333 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket
- Smith Hill Early Childhood Learning Center
25 Danforth Street, Providence
- Westbay Children’s Center
22 Astral St., Warwick
- Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association (two classrooms)
204 Warwick St., Woonsocket
The 2014-2015 state Pre-K child lottery application will be posted by July 2014. Applications will also be available at all participating Pre-K programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pre-K Program Overview
In 2008, the RI General Assembly enacted legislation directing the RI Department of Education to begin planning for an initial pilot prekindergarten program meeting high-quality standards. The resulting design has earned the program a quality rating of 10 out of 10 in the annual National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) State of Preschool publication.
Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program Video
From the time children walk into a RI Pre-Kindergarten classroom until the time they leave, children are actively engaged in learning. Intentional teaching means that teachers apply what they know from research and best practice in the field of early childhood and intentionally plan their day to ensure that every child gets the most out of every experience.
Curriculum in RI Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms – Video
RI Pre-Kindergarten teachers are committed to continually assessing and refining their teaching practice to be the best that they can be. PreK Program classrooms use a number of tools that provide data to teachers about their classroom practices.
RI Pre-Kindergarten classroom teachers implement a system of ongoing child assessment which includes observations of children, samples of children’s work, interviews with children, and interviews with parents. This information is entered into a web-based child portfolio using Teaching Strategies GOLD and is used by teachers to inform curriculum planning, to differentiate instruction for individual students and groups of students, and to ensure that children make steady progress toward learning outcomes.
Child Assessment in RI Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms – Video
Family Engagement is a core component of high-quality, early education classrooms. Children do better in school when they experience a preschool curriculum that is culturally relevant and integrates elements of their own life experiences. In addition, when parents and caregivers partner with teachers and support children’s learning at home, we create the conditions that maximize outcomes for children.
Family Engagement in RI Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms – Video
By act of the General Assembly in 1968, nursery schools and kindergartens were endorsed as the initial steps in early childhood education and were thereby made an integral part of the education system of Rhode Island. This act was the result of an upsurge of interest across the nation in offering planned educational opportunities to preschoolers; the establishment of an increasing number of facilities for children under six; and the demand by parents for a safe, healthy and acceptable places for their child to begin his/her educational experience. Thus, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) was authorized to plan for the approval of existing early childhood programs and to assume leadership in establishing of standards for new facilities. That is, by legislative act, namely, Chapter 48 of Title 16 of the General Laws of Rhode Island, the Commissioner was given responsibility for setting standards and planning approval procedures for educational programs serving children three to six years of age.
Pursuant to state law (RIGL 16-48), the Comprehensive Early Childhood Education Program Approval standards shall apply to early childhood education programs in order to ensure developmentally appropriate early development and learning experiences based on Rhode Island’s Early Learning Standards to children between the ages of three (3) to six (6) years of age.
These standards shall also pertain to kindergarten classrooms operating in private programs in which kindergarten is the terminal grade.
Applicants must already meet the Tier 1/Foundational Level of being either:
- A Child Day Care Center, Family Child Care Home, Head Start Program, or private preschool licensed by the State of Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families OR
- A program housed in a public or private K-12 school that meets physical facility requirements of the RI Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Application to the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education pursuant to these standards represents the program's desire to seek voluntary approval as a Comprehensive Early Childhood Education Program.
Programs intending to apply for CECE program approval should contact Carla Swanson at Carla.email@example.com