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This Pre-K program offers free tuition for qualifying families

Economic studies show that investment in early childhood education shows high returns, directly influences economic, health and social outcomes later in life

The image was taken Feb. 2020 courtesy of Pre-K 4 SA

SAN ANTONIO – Parents, if you’ve been searching for pre-kindergarten options for your kids, there’s one option that, if you meet the criteria, you may get free tuition.

Pre-K 4 SA is a comprehensive early childhood initiative aimed at changing the education and workforce trajectory of San Antonio in one generation.

The program offers full-day pre-kindergarten classes for 4-year-olds living in the city of San Antonio. Pre-K 4 SA is free for qualifying students and also accepts tuition-paying students.

Pre-K 4 SA is supported by city leaders and a board of directors who have a passion for education and a belief that together we can make a positive change in one generation to improve a workforce that will help secure our future economy. It can also present opportunities of citizens, decrease poverty and strengthen family and civic engagement.

After the program’s first eight years, research shows, according to Pre-K 4 SA, the key to making positive changes in our city is in ensuring citywide access to high-quality pre-kindergarten education.

Economic studies show that investment in early childhood education shows high returns, and it directly influences economic, health and social outcomes later in life.

There are proven direct links between high-quality early education and academic achievement, improved social behavior, health, decision-making skills and career success.

A 2019 evaluation of the costs, benefits and returns on investments associated with the Pre-K 4 SA program found the city to receive a return of $56,000,000 on the voter-approved initiative in its first eight years.

Previous national studies have shown that high-quality early childhood generates $7-10 for every $100 of investment. According to the study conducted by Westat, University of Pennsylvania, and Teachers College at Columbia University, Pre-K 4 SA generates even greater benefits. The benefit-cost ratio of Pre-K 4 SA was approximately 1.56, which means that every dollar invested in Pre-K 4 SA generated, on average, $1.56 of benefits to society.

[Related: Free full-day schooling available for qualified students in area Pre-K program, Pre-K 4 SA improves 3rd-grade STAAR results, has additional social outcomes, study shows]

According to a study conducted by Westat, University of Pennsylvania and Teachers College at Columbia University, Pre-K 4 SA generates even greater benefits. The benefit-cost ratio of Pre-K 4 SA was approximately 1.56, which means that every dollar invested in Pre-K 4 SA generated, on average, $1.56 of benefits to society.

The evaluation weighed the promising results against the program’s costs using a benefit-cost framework, and examined whether, and to what extent, the program’s benefits to the city of San Antonio outweigh its costs. San Antonio sees $156 in benefits for every $100 invested in Pre-K 4 SA.

“We knew we were seeing improvements in the children year over year in successfully preparing them for kindergarten and beyond,” said Sarah Baray, CEO of Pre-K 4 SA. "This study also shows that the benefits are not only to the children, but also to the families and community, and the lasting societal benefits are even more than anticipated. It’s an investment in our youth. That means it’s an investment in our future. Laying this foundation of learning and leadership has the potential to impact the child, their immediate family and their community.”

To learn more about Pre-K 4 SA and enrollment, click here.