While some D.C. politicians are pushing government-run preschool and daycare, a growing number of organizations are exploring less expensive, more personalized home-care options. School Reform News’ Ashley Bateman reports:

As experts debate preschool’s effectiveness and the Obama administration aims to increase large-scale programs, some forget the well-documented importance of parent involvement to education outcomes.

Some organizations focus exclusively on family-centered approaches to educating young children, while many private, half-day preschools focus on developmental skills parents can reinforce at home.

New initiatives such as Save the Children…encourage parents of preschoolers to educate their children in simple, engaging ways that carry no price tag. …

Save the Children arranges home visits for families, where families learn how to read to young children.  Simple, stimulating play and communication with parents and friends can increase children’s learning and preparedness for school.

Four of five 3-year-olds in Save the Children’s home visit program scored at or above the normal range for vocabulary acquisition.  Children participating in STC’s Early Steps program average as many or more risk factors than those enrolled in Head Start, the federal preschool program. But while Head Start graduates score far below the national mean on vocabulary tests, children enrolled in Early Steps for at least one year score comfortably mid-range.

Parents should have as many options as possible when it comes to the care and education of their young children. However well-intentioned government programs minimize options because they force subsidized care. It’s important not to forget that a lot of families make sacrifices to keep a spouse or family member at home. The preferences of parents must prevail, and what we’ve seen time and again over the decades is that once the government sector expands, parents’ choices diminish.