The Utah High Quality Preschool Program

This article focuses on the design, implementation, and results to date of the Utah High-Quality Preschool Program, a Pay-for-Success (PFS) project begun in 2013, to provide preschool services to 3- and 4-year-old children in low-income areas in Salt Lake County, Utah, where children were at higher risk of school failure. Prior to the project, there were limited public funding opportunities for preschool services for low-income children in Utah. There were private programs supported by childcare subsidies, federally-funded programs such as Head Start, and limited school district preschools funded by Title I, typically combined with preschool for children with disabilities. These limited options served only a small percentage of families. The PFS project spurred a cultural and political shift around state public policies and investments in early childhood. Full-day kindergarten, childcare accessibility, and preschool services for children from low-income families are now part of the public dialogue and reality in Utah.

The story of how the Utah preschool PFS project was developed demonstrates how different groups interested in the well-being of families and children can work together in unique ways to affect the larger state system. This article discusses the gradual development of the research that supported the development of the PFS project, the interest of programs focused on the well-being of children, the drive to create policy that supported these efforts, the implementation of the PFS project, and results to date.

Our Partners

United Way of Salt Lake, Dr. Mark Innocenti

Our Challenge

Communicate the ideation, programmatic and financial development, and results-to-date of using innovative financial models to address early education access inequities.

Our Work

Research and Analysis, Report Development