For years, preschool was out of reach for many children who rely on public schools for education. Now there are multiple options.
There are private child care facilities that offer a learning component, and Head Start offers help to income-qualified children as young as 3. City and county schools also offer preschool. The city offers it for children who are 4 by Oct. 1 and who qualify for free or reduced meals. Three- and 4-year-olds also may qualify for pre-K education if they are identified as needing special education services.
In Warren County Public Schools, the preschool program is provided free for 3- and 4-year-old children who have been identified as having a developmental delay. The program is also provided free for children who will turn 4 by Aug. 1 of the current school year and meet federal poverty income guidelines.
The latest to be added into the mix is The Foundry, a loosely faith-based community organization that is committed to bringing up the neighborhood where it is located: 531 W. 11th Ave.
The Foundry can offer classes for up to 10 children in a session for 3- and 4-year-olds — 30 total.
The 3-year-olds have class from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., and the preschool provided breakfast, lunch and a snack throughout the day. The 4-year-olds attend the academy for a half day, with The Foundry cooperating with city schools by taking morning students in the afternoon and vice versa. This will allow students needing extra time of preschool to get extended support.
The aim is to put children on the path toward success even before they enter public schools. A large component of any child’s success can be tied to parental support, something The Foundry recognizes.
There are no specific income guidelines to attend the preschool and The Foundry is flexible with enrollment, but they are targeting students whose family’s income meets guidelines for free and reduced lunch. But for their children to attend the school for free parents must commit to attending six out of eight classes offered during the year that are designed to meet the parents’ needs, which might include English as a second language classes.
Preschool programs, in general, are thought to provide a number of benefits, including increased wages and lower costs to society for such things as fighting crime.
In “Enriching Children, Enriching the Nation,” economist Robert G. Lynch of Economic Policy Institute in 2007 looked at the benefit of instituting all day preschool education across the country. He found that in Kentucky the program would provide increased compensation of wages and benefits in 2050 of $2 billion and there would be a reduction in crime costs that same year of $1.2 billion.
So it’s clear these programs work and The Foundry should be commended for its efforts. Much community support, both financially and in terms of time and talent, have been given to help ensure children from the city’s west end will be on a level playing field in their educational futures through both classroom and out-of-school programs.
Bowling Green Daily News