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Understanding barriers and solutions affecting preschool attendance in low-income families

Preschool attendance problems negatively impact children's school readiness skills and future school attendance. Parents are critical to preschoolers' attendance. This study explored parental barriers and solutions to preschool attendance in low-income families. School-district administrative data from a racially/ethnically diverse sample of parents with children attending the district's half-day preschool program were obtained (N = 111). Subsamples of parents participated in a phone interview and follow-up, in-person interview. Parents valued early learning and preschool. Children missed school due to illness, problems with child care, transportation, and family life. Differences in attendance rates appeared by school, family demographics, and race/ethnicity. African-Americans and Hispanics experienced more barriers than Whites and Asians, and were more likely to miss school because of illness and medical appointments. Hispanics were more likely to miss for vacation. Parents noted a lack of social connection with other parents in the school/neighborhood, making seeking help to resolve attendance barriers difficult. (author abstract)
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