Chris Jones believes that all Arkansans deserve access to affordable and high quality preschool. Access to preschool not only boosts student success for the rest of their academic career, it also enables parents to stay in the workforce and increases other positive outcomes for students and communities as well.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, childcare exceeds affordability standards for all but 18.1% of what families in Arkansas can afford—a typical family with two children would spend over one-fourth of their income on childcare. Preschools are also more difficult to access for rural families across Arkansas.
Arkansas has the resources and innovation to lead neighboring states in provision of universal preschool. Improving education is critical to increasing opportunity across the state, and building a solid foundation for educational achievement begins with preschool.
Ending cycles of poverty and moving students through the education system and into the workforce starts with early education. It enables parents to balance both work and children and will strengthen Arkansas’ economy. Universal access to preschool will give children the best chance at leading happy and healthy lives.
To improve and expand access to preschools, Chris Jones would:
Reallocate funding to preschool subsidy programs for low- and middle-class families.
Use funds to support and stabilize existing childcare centers.
Create a task force to indicate where public options are most needed and work to establish public options.
Ensure pay equity for preschool educators.
Leverage private-public partnerships to extend the reach of federal grant dollars in early childhood care and education.
Designate a senior-level position that reports directly to the governor to ensure execution of this priority.