What Is Saint Paul 3K?

Saint Paul 3K is a concerted effort – on the part of the City of Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Saint Paul Public Schools and the community - to provide equitable access to affordable, high-quality preschool for all three- and four-year old children in Saint Paul. This effort follows the examples of several cities across the country that have initiated their own preschool programs (Denver, San Francisco, New York City, Cincinnati, Washington DC and more).

The Need

Saint Paul’s youngest children deserve more support than they currently receive.

  • Saint Paul’s poverty rates are highest among children. Overall, 34% of Saint Paul’s 3 and 4 year-olds live below the federal poverty line.
  • There are currently nearly 950 children on waiting lists, seeking school-based Pre-K, Head Start, Child Care Assistance and Early Learning Scholarships, they cannot get due to lack of funding. And these waiting lists do not include families who have simply given up hope of receiving the support they need.
  • Finding childcare is difficult and expensive; Minnesota is the third most expensive state for childcare, putting a strain on families across Saint Paul and often leading to gender inequities when one parent stays home.
  • Scholarships do not cover the full cost of year-round, full-time care, and only provide access for children below the 185% poverty level.

The Benefits

Early childhood education is one of the best investments Saint Paul can make in the overall health, well-being, and future success of children and their families. Early childhood education helps eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps, decreases the poverty rate through support of parents, and provides an economic boost for families who no longer have to worry about the expenses of child care. High quality early education boosts our economy thanks to a more stable workforce, thus attracting families and businesses looking to call Saint Paul home. A strong system will support families in the transition into early elementary school. It is a win-win for our community.

3K Program Elements

  • A mixed delivery system, including a variety of early learning environments (child care centers, Head Start, school based preschools and licensed family care).
  • Quality programming - all 3K providers will accept ongoing and consistent evaluation of their programs.
  • Benefit for all Saint Paul families by creating more high-quality spots, simplifying and coordinating the pre-K system, easing the transition to kindergarten, ensuring quality, and tuition support for eligible families.
  • Full tuition support for families in need.
  • Simple to understand and access – designed without the need for complicated paperwork and streamlined with other forms families are already filling out.

Last Edited: May 16, 2019