In the third part of our side-by-side comparisons of the House and Senate budgets, NC Health News breaks down both chambers’ plans for early-childhood education.

By Rose Hoban

Next to Medicaid, one of the most complicated parts of the Health and Human Services budget is the section that deals with early-childhood education. The Senate and House take quite different approaches to the area, with adjustments to different parts that, on the surface, don’t look that different. However, they are quite disparate.

According to Michele Rivest, head of the North Carolina Child Care Coalition, there are three different parts of the budget to pay attention to.

NC Pre-K, which was known as More at Four until mid-2011, is an early-childhood education program aimed at 4-year-olds. Rivest said the program is mostly aimed at economically and developmentally disadvantaged kids.

Rivest said kids attend the program for only part of the day and it’s “very prescribed” in terms of standards and licensure. The programs can be housed at a variety of locations including public schools that have extra rooms, free-standing centers or churches, but no religious instruction is permitted during the day.