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Is there such thing as free preschool tuition?

Started by Sam, January 13, 2019, 04:28:42 PM

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Hi Folks,

So it hit me after publishing my post on navigating the preschool admission process ( that there might be free preschool options in San Francisco. But when I looked it up, it is unclear and seems to be tuition reimbursements or subsidies depending on income level.

Are there free preschool programs in your city? If so, how does it work and are there income limitations?




Massachusetts does have a free preschool program run on a town-by-town basis and generally limited by lottery vs income. It is also generally setup as a half day or three quarter day program such that it isn't a direct substitute for a paid daycare/preschool. Works well for stay at home parents or if you have grandparents that can do the pickup.

The quality of the paid preschools I have seen vary quite a bit. Some of the lower quality (but not lower cost) are quite scary. One daycare walking distance from me had an infant die in their care (and was promptly shut down). One of the lower quality ones I saw had tons of availability, but the staff just didn't seem to care. The ones that I liked were generally space limited, but sometimes staffing limited.

The economics of a preschool are challenging. You need a certain ratio of staff to students (generally state mandated). You need additional support staff and staffing to cover for breaks. You need management and sales. Labor is a huge cost and preschool staff are generally not high paid. Rising wages and a tight labor market compresses margins. You need full classrooms all the time to make it work.

Sad side note - my favorite cashier at Domino's pizza used to work at a fancy preschool down the street. She clearly loves kids and is really nice to my daughter. I wonder why she stopped working at the Daycare, but I suspect Domino's was the higher paying job.


Eric -  thanks for the insights! I am, that Dominos pizza store is pretty sad.

I've got some people on my post already trying to guilt me for applying to the best preschools. But my reasoning is, if the cost of attending preschool is roughly the same no matter the quality, why wouldn't I just apply to the best preschools?

I don't think it's worth risking your little toddler's life over a poor quality preschool with not enough staff for caring staff.



You should apply for the best unless its not the best for long as the costs are the same. 

Which is why I am adamant about not paying Harvard or MIT prices for lower end ivies when state schools have equivalent or better education and about the same networking advantages.

I dunno why anyone would try to guilt you into not picking the best schools in a cost bracket.