• Early Education

On April 2, 2013, the Mississippi legislature passed the Early Learning Collaborative Act, which established Mississippi’s first state-funded pre-K program. Ten years after its enactment, the pre-K law is a popular program with broad bipartisan support, but designing the program and securing its passage was anything but easy.

How did the Early Learning Collaborative Act evolve from an impossible idea to a celebrated achievement? And what more must we do to protect and expand on our progress in creating a high-quality pre-K seat for every child who wants one? For the tenth anniversary of the act’s passage, Mississippi First set out to document the Early Learning Collaborative Act’s history, the role of the legislation’s champions, and the impact the act has made to date on the lives of children and families. This report also makes the case for where the state should go from here to ensure the law continues to make a difference for decades to come.

Growing the Impact

Recommendation One

Ensure the early learning collaborative program is the premier state-funded pre-K program—and that the focus for pre-K remains on quality.

Recommendation Two

Increase access to collaboratives for children who would like to attend.

Recommendation Three

Support greater inclusion of childcare centers in collaboratives.

Authors and Editors

Rachel Canter

Executive Director

Rachel Canter is the Executive Director of Mississippi First and author of additional Mississippi First reports, including Leaving Last in Line, the State of Pre-K series, and Nothing in the Pipes: Educator Crisis in Mississippi (2020). Rachel founded Mississippi First in 2008.

Micayla Tatum

Director of Early Childhood Policy

Micayla Tatum is the Director of Early Childhood Policy and the co-author of the third and fourth State of Pre-K brief that focuses on access to pre-K in 2017-2018. She also was the project lead for the development and publication of the pre-K data dashboard.