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Status of Education in Rural America
NCES 2007-040
June 2007

1.5. 3- to 5-year-olds in preprimary programs

In 2005, about half of children in rural areas between the ages of 3 and 5 attended a center-based preprimary program such as a daycare center, Head Start program, preschool, or prekindergarten.

Nationwide, 57 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds were enrolled in center-based preprimary programs1 in 2005 (table 1.5). In rural areas, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in such programs (50 percent) was lower than the national rate (57 percent) and lower than the rates for children in suburban areas (63 percent) and cities (58 percent). There was no measurable difference between the enrollment rates for children in rural areas and towns.

Across the United States in 2005, a greater percentage of children in families with incomes at or above the poverty threshold than children in families with incomes below the poverty threshold were enrolled in preprimary programs (60 vs. 47 percent). Among rural children, the apparent difference in enrollment rates between children living at or above the poverty threshold (52 percent) and children living below the poverty threshold (39 percent) was not statistically significant due to large standard errors.

The number of hours children attended center-based preprimary programs varied. Nationally, a greater percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds attended preprimary programs less than 30 hours a week than attended preprimary programs 30 hours or more a week (35 vs. 21 percent). The same relationship held true for children in rural areas (33 vs. 16 percent) (figure 1.5).

1 The National Household Education Survey: 2005 Early Childhood Program Participation (ECPP-NHES:2005) Interview classifies early childhood care and programs into three categories: relative care, nonrelative care, and center-based programs. For rates of attendance in center-based programs, respondents were asked if the child was "attending a day care center, preschool, prekindergarten, or (Early) Head Start program." For more information on the ECPP-NHES:2005, see (PDF 360 KB).