Last four decades witnessed an increasing attention directed to the education of children who are under five (Barnett & Boocock, 1998). With ongoing changes in family structures and lifestyles, the number of children who are cared for by someone other than a parent has steadily increased. On the basis of information provided by Barnett and Boocock, estimates suggest that almost 65 percent of mothers with preschool children are in the labor force. In 1995, 59 percent of all preschool-aged children within the US were in preschool care and education programs on a regular basis, including 67 percent of three-year-olds and 77 percent of four-year-olds (Hofferth, Shauman, Henke, & West, 1998). According to the study carried out by West, Denton, and Germino-Hausken (1998), US Department of Education (Doe) found that 80 percent of all children beginning kindergarten in the fall of 1998 had been in child care on a regular basis, and about half continued to be in child care before or after school. Suggesting that, currently, the vast majority of children within the US spend much of their day away from their parents, with most attending a center-based preschool program prior to kindergarten. As reported by Yarosz and Barnett (2001), center-based preschool programs in 1999, were frequently attended by preschoolers throughout the US, with program participation at 70% at age four and 45% at age three.
As described by Yarosz and Barnett, center-based programs are mostly labeled as child care, preschool, day care, and nursery school and are operated under a number of different auspices, including churches, independent non-profit, for-profits, public schools, and Head Start. According to West, Hausken, and Collins (1993), regardless of how preschool programs are described and labeled, most parents perceive such programs as educational. Further explained by Yarosz and Barnett, augmentation in parental education as well as income is directly related to an increase in the rate of enrollment and participation of children in preschool programs. The finding holds true with greater government support for programs targeting children in low-income families (example Title XX or Child Care Works). Additionally, as reported by Yarosz and Barnett, findings suggests that parents are less likely to enroll children under three in center-based programs, as parents tend to view infant and toddler care as less likely to influence later educational outcomes. Moreover, the implementation of preschool programs in public schools has recently increased. According to information provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)