Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Administration and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Kristina Hesbol, Ph.D.


Early childhood education policy, Preschool for all, Preschool policy, Universal pre-k, Universal prekindergarten, Universal preschool


Presently, the Unites States does not have a publicly funded, comprehensive, universal ECE system. The fragmented and piecemeal approach to providing ECE creates social injustice and inequity for many young children (Kagan & Roth, 2017; Kagan, 2009). With the absence of comprehensive and streamlined federal ECE policy, several states have attempted to at least provide universal preschool to all four-year-old children. For states that aim to adopt universal preschool, it is critical to understand the factors, political conditions, and policy environments conducive to creating preschool policy change. Although many states would like to provide universal preschool, very few have been successful in overcoming barriers to its policy adoption (Azzi-Lessing, 2009; Bushouse, 2009; Rose, 2010; Ackerman, 2004). While many studies focus on the effectiveness of preschool, to date little attention has been paid to how universal preschool policies are being adopted by states. This descriptive policy analysis used a multi-case study approach to examine how ten different states - large and small, "red" and "blue", rich and poor - successfully adopted universal preschool. Findings indicate the presence of key policy conditions, strategies, and themes found across states with universal preschool policy on the books. Implications for states' development of universal preschool policy are discussed.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Holly Higgins Wilcher

File size

179 p.

File format





Education policy, Public policy, Early childhood education