All Utah families should have a choice in the type of kindergarten program their child attends, whether that be half-day or full-day kindergarten (FDK).
Unfortunately, this is still not the case, with almost 60 percent of families across the state unable to access FDK in their local public or charter school.
It’s time for all kindergarteners to have the same access to opportunities as their peers do, and for more than luck and geography to determine a child’s chances for success. In 2023, United Way of Salt Lake will work to pass legislation that guarantees ongoing education funding for optional FDK for the families that wish to opt-in.
Currently most full or extended kindergarten programs are paid for through a grant program. This limits schools’ ability to provide options to all students. In partnership with school districts and members of the Utah Full-Day Kindergarten Now coalition, we are asking that FDK be funded through the weighted per pupil unit (WPU) just like grades first through twelfth grades are funded. If a student does not want to attend FDK, half-day will continue to be an option for every family.
We know that students benefit from FDK academically and socially. Utah kids in FDK routinely outperform their half-day kindergarten peers in basic kindergarten proficiencies.
A full-day program provides sufficient time for teachers to ensure deep learning of the kindergarten state standards and for students to practice and master them. Studies show that access to early education leads kids to an enhanced ability to read, count, and cognitively perform more effectively throughout their lives.
Access to a FDK program can also help close achievement gaps for students who are at risk of falling behind their peers.
According to Utah’s 2021-22 Kindergarten Entry and Exit Profile, proficiency in literacy when participating in FDK program increased compared to half-day participants by:
- 11 percent more among students experiencing economic disadvantage
- 10 percent more among students who have a disability
The same data showed that proficiency in numeracy when participating in FDK increased compared to half-day students by:
- 16 percent more among students experiencing economic disadvantage
- 17 percent more among students who have a disability
UWSL works with a large coalition of stakeholders who support optional FDK. Learn more about the coalition and how you can support this effort at utahfulldayk.today.
Sign up to participate in weekly Days on the Hill and help us advocate for optional FDK, starting January 25.