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Different Regulations Govern D.C.’s Publicly Funded Pre-K Programs

 Over the course of dealing with their issues, Judson and DaCosta-Azar began to realize that different pre-K programs across the city are governed by different rules and standards, and in turn, regulated by different agencies. Who sets the standards? Who holds who accountable?

D.C. is widely considered a national leader when it comes to early childhood education. In 2016, according to the National Institute of Early Education Research, 81 percent of District 4-year-olds and 70 percent of District 3-year-olds were enrolled in publicly-funded programs. These rates exceeded those of all states.

Like most states offering pre-K, the District employs a “mixed-delivery” system for publicly-funded early childhood education; parents can choose DCPS programs, privately-run programs, or charter school programs.

But these three sectors are not all governed by the same regulations, and are subject to differing levels of oversight. All three must comply with the city’s sanitation, building, and fire codes, but in other management areas there are differences.