WASHINGTON, D.C. — Maine could receive an estimated $5.5 million in federal funding under a White House proposal to expand access to preschool for children of low- and moderate-income families.

In April, President Barack Obama included in his proposed budget a program called Preschool for All, which would set aside $75 billion to provide preschool for all four year olds from families that earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday released estimates for how much each state could receive if the program is approved by Congress as part of the budget.

Under Obama’s proposal, Maine would receive an estimated $5.5 million in the first year of the program, which would need to be matched by $500,000 from the state.

There are roughly 14,000 four-year-olds in Maine, of which public pre-K serves roughly 32 percent, or about 4,500, according to Kim Gore, Maine state director for America’s Edge, a nonprofit that advocates for early childhood education.

“The president is proposing a state-federal partnership to expand pre-K across the country, including in Maine, and that’s very exciting for us because we know giving kids high quality early education is key to later success in school and later success in their careers,” Gore said Wednesday. “That’s good for the children and for Maine employers and businesses.”

The rate of return on investments in high-quality early childhood education is “conservatively” 7.5 percent, according to a recent report from University of Maine Economist Philip Trostel.


Whit Richardson

Whit Richardson is Business Editor at the Bangor Daily News. He blogs about Maine business, entrepreneurs and the economy.