Effective Systems

Universal Pre-kindergarten in Georgia: A Case Study of Georgia’s Lottery-Funded Pre-K Program


In 1995, Georgia became the first state to provide universal Prekindergarten to all four-year-olds. While Georgia’s innovations in early care and education resulted from many forces and individuals distinct to the state and region, this case study of Georgia’s lottery-funded Pre-K program offers lessons that may inform early education policy in other states.

The case study of the Georgia universal Prekindergarten program addresses several issues.

  • Offering Pre-K services to all families may be a key to winning ongoing political support and ensuring program survival. But are there tradeoffs?
  • A state lottery is a viable mechanism for financing universal Pre-K.
  • Creating and growing a large-scale Pre-K program requires powerful, consistent leadership.
  • Success hinges on understanding and protecting the fragile ecology of early childhood programs.
  • Integrating private providers into a public program is one of the toughest challenges of universal Pre-K.
  • Georgia Pre-K illustrates the complex dynamics that may ensue among federal, state, and local levels of government in the provision of early education services.
  • Program success hinges on constant attention to quality--especially in the areas of curriculum and teacher preparation.
  • The challenge of creating a Pre-K infrastructure — especially in the realm of facilities--must not be underestimated.