Early childhood education takes a hit, as states collectively decreased spending on preschool programs last year – for the first time since 2002, a new study finds.

Kindergarten-PaintingFor the first time since 2002, states collectively decreased spending on early childhood education last school year, meaning fewer preschoolers were admitted to subsidized programs in some states. Those findings, from a recently released study, also said the cuts would have been more severe if not for federal stimulus money, as most states cut services to grapple with budget gaps.

Overall per-pupil spending in preschools dipped to $4,028 last year – $114 lower than the previous year, and nearly $700 below the 2001-2002 level, according to “The State of Preschool 2010,” issued by National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Though three states boosted preschool funding by more than 10 percent and two states – Alaska and Rhode Island – added preschool programs, such investment was the exception rather than the rule last year.

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Source: Ilana Kowarski | The Christian Science Monitor