Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Kristina Hesbol, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Douglas Allen

Third Advisor

Ellen Miller Brown

Fourth Advisor

Susan Korach


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


Presently, the United 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.

Rights Holder

Holly Higgins Wilcher


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

179 p.


Education policy, Public policy, Early childhood education