The Selection of Children From Low-Income Families into Preschool

Because children from low-income families benefit from preschool but are less likely than other children to enroll, identifying factors that promote their enrollment can support research and policy aiming to reduce socioeconomic disparities in education. In this study, we tested an accommodations model with data on 6,250 children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. In general, parental necessity (e.g., maternal employment) and human capital considerations (e.g., maternal education) most consistently predicted preschool enrollment among children from low-income families. Supply side factors (e.g., local child care options) and more necessity and human capital factors (e.g., having fewer children, desiring preparation for school) selected such children into preschool over parental care or other care arrangements, and several necessity factors (e.g., being less concerned about costs) selected them into non-Head Start preschools over Head Start programs. Systemic connections and child elicitation did not consistently predict preschool enrollment in this population. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)