Brenda Brinson is the director of Hillsborough Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), a program that helps parents prepare young children for success in school. She says the study confirms the overall consensus about early-childhood education – although she sees firsthand the barriers keeping many children from achieving the same success.
"I think it's probably access,” says Brinson. “And I know with the families that are migrant families, there's challenges with language barriers. Literacy levels of parents could also be a problem, because we're a parent involvement piece. "
According to Florida KIDS COUNT, half of all three- and four-year-olds in the state weren't enrolled in a preschool program in 2013 through 2017 – despite the Head Start program and others in the state increasing access in recent years.
Brinson says she hopes to see more progress with helping to remove barriers, including the challenges of many working parents and the obstacles that can keep them from engaging with their children. She says in some homes, parents resort to keeping kids occupied in front of the television, leaving them unprepared for the rigors of kindergarten.
"They are still not as ready as they should be,” says Brinson. “Progress definitely has been made, most definitely, but more needs to be done yet, still."
Brinson, the Duke study and research from Florida KIDS COUNT all conclude there is a need for investment in high quality Pre-K programs because they improve school readiness, with especially positive gains for higher-risk children.