Delaney Introduces Legislation to Create Nationwide Pre-K for All

Sep 17, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6) has filed legislation to create nationwide access to free pre-K for four-year-old children. The Early Learning Act provides state governments with federal funding to establish or expand their pre-K programs. Delaney’s legislation makes access to free pre-K for all a reality in all 50 states.

The legislation establishes The Early Education Trust Fund which will distribute block grants to participating states. The Early Education Trust Fund will be funded by a 1.5% increase on individual income, dividends and capital gains above $500,000. This provides states with up to $8,000 in funding per student, per year for pre-k.    

“Experts agree that students enrolled in pre-k perform better in school, are more likely to graduate and have better long term economic prospects. Pre-k also makes it less likely that students will need help later in their education, will be less likely to be enrolled in special education programs and less likely to repeat a grade. Expanding pre-k is one of the smartest, most fiscally-sound investments we can make, because the long-term benefits lead to lower long-term public costs,” said Congressman Delaney. “Research shows that pre-k for all is one of the most transformative things we can do to reduce the achievement gap and help low-income students thrive. I don’t want any child born in America to start kindergarten a step behind simply because of their background. The Early Learning Act provides states with the funding they need to establish pre-k for all programs that the American people overwhelmingly want. Let’s work together to make pre-k for all a reality.”


The Early Learning Act


Universal, High Quality Pre-K

  • The Early Learning Act provides funding for states to establish universal pre-k for four-year-old students or expand existing programs.
  • Funding can only be directed towards state-certified programs that are accredited and not-for-profit.
  • To participate, states must establish universal access to free pre-k programs. Funding is tied to the number of students enrolled, incentivizing high enrollment levels.
  • A substantial amount of academic research, drawing on decades of data, shows that pre-k produces better educational, career and economic outcomes for students.[1] Studies have found that pre-k reduces the achievement gap and helps low-income students succeed.[2] By reducing long-term costs and improving outcomes, pre-k has also been found to produce a significant multiplier effect as a public investment.[3]  


National Funding for State-Based Programs

  • The Early Learning Act establishes the Early Education Trust Fund, a federal fund administered by the Department of Education.
  • The fund will provide block grants to participating states at a level of up to $8,000 per student per year.
  • States will have flexibility to implement program details at their discretion.


On Budget

  • The Early Education Trust Fund is paid for by a surtax of 1.5% on income, dividends and capital gains above $500,000, impacting less than 1% of households in the United States.
  • The Early Education Trust Fund acts as a lockbox, ensuring that this revenue can only be used for pre-k.
  • The Early Learning Act does not increase the deficit and is budget neutral.
  • The Early Learning Act funds new state-based programs and is not an unfunded mandate.







[1] “The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40: Summary, Conclusions and Frequently Asked Questions.” Lawrence J. Schweinhart, Jeanne Montie, Zongping Xiang, W. Steven Barnett, Clive R. Belfield and Milagros Nores. 

[2] “New Research: Early Education’s Influence on the Achievement Gap.” Conor Williams, Senior Researcher, Early Education Initiative, New America Foundation.


[3] “Trust the Data: Pre-K is Good for Texas Kids.” Cynthia Osborne, Director of the Child and Family Research Partnership, The University of Texas at Austin. “Getting the Facts Right on Pre-K and the President’s Pre-K Proposal”. W. Steven Barnett, PhD. National Institute for Early Education Research.