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When 2.7 million American 4-year-olds start preschool next fall many will end up in places that have subpar and even dangerous conditions, without the support they need to get ready to succeed in school.

Lack of access and availability for both low-income and middle class families means that many parents never enroll their children in preschool at all, despite knowing about the academic and social benefits. Just 43 percent of 4-year-olds go to public preschools in the U.S., and only six states have public programs that meet basic quality standards, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

To help you better understand the challenge parents face in finding a safe, stimulating place for their children, The Hechinger Report created “Preschool Challenge,” an illustrated, interactive story. Stepping into the shoes of a parent, you will try to determine where you can send your child, whether or not you can afford it and what you are willing to put up with once your child is enrolled.

Fill out our short survey to tell us more about your experience and ask questions we may be able to answer in future reporting projects.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for our newsletter.

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Lillian Mongeau directs and contributes to The Hechinger Report’s Western coverage of K-12 and early education topics. She began developing a speciality in early childhood in 2012 and has written and...

Ryan Alexander-Tanner is an illustrator living in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in To Teach: The Journey, In Comics (Published by Teacher's College Press), The New York Times and The

John Osborn D’Agostino is an Oakland-based data journalist, front-end developer and game designer. He’s passionate about serious games, data visualization and open government. His dream is to make...

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