Poor Preschool-Aged Children:

Numbers Increase but Most Not in Preschool

HRD-93-111BR: Published: Jul 21, 1993. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) changes in preschool-aged children's demographics since 1980; and (2) differences in preschool participation rates for children by income level, age, other demographic characteristics, and location.

GAO found that: (1) the United States could experience difficulties in achieving the first of its planned National Education Goals by 2000 because of increases in the number, diversity, and needs of disadvantaged preschool-aged children; (2) the number of poor preschool-aged children has increased 28 percent since 1980; (3) the majority of poor preschool-aged children were from minority groups; (4) although children's poverty rates varied by location with the highest percentage of poor preschool-aged children tended to live in the south and southwest regions and about one-fourth live in rural areas; (5) compared with all preschool children, poor and near-poor preschool-aged children had the lowest participation rates, were least likely to participate in preschool in rural areas, and were less likely to participate when in at-risk situations; and (6) federal, state, and local governments will need to develop a strategy to better serve disadvantaged children and meet the National Education Goals by 2000.

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