Early Childhood Education
Barbara Y. LaCost & Marilyn L. Grady
Early childhood education (ECE) addresses the education of young children from birth through age 8. Kindergarten, the educational approach used in formal school settings, has existed for more than a century and offers education to the 5- and 6-year-old population. The education of 7- and 8-year-olds is usually provided in a formal setting also. However, at the time of the 2000 census, there were 23 million children 5 years of age and younger in the United States whose educational opportunities could be influenced by educational settings. This segment of children represents one third of the entire population of children under the age of 18. For children not yet entering formal schooling, ECE opportunities are offered through various types of center-based programs that provide myriad learning opportunities. Forty-five states funded prekindergarten programs in 2002. State support is in four main areas: state supplement to Head Start only, support only in public ...