LEXINGTON, KY – A new initiative of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence will focus on making high-quality, voluntary preschool available to all of Kentucky’s children.
The advocacy campaign, Strong Start Kentucky: Quality Pre-K for Every Child, will target specific areas:
Adequate state funding for preschool programs
Support for community-based programs
Enhancing the quality of public and community preschool programs
Expanding the number of champions for preschool throughout Kentucky
The campaign has the support of Pre-K Now, a national public education and advocacy organization that emphasizes high-quality pre-kindergarten that improves child outcomes, can be delivered in a variety of settings that offer choices to parents and is available on a voluntary basis to all children whose parents want it for them. Pre-K Now is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and other funders.
The Prichard Committee will work with parents and policymakers in partnership with leaders from early childhood, business, education, religion and health care to develop recommendations on ways to improve the quality of and access to Kentucky’s public and community-based preschool programs. That process will involve a review of Kentucky’s current pre-k policies and practices and other elements now in place in the state.
A key part of Strong Start Kentucky is a web-based advocacy program to deliver campaign messages, encourage more Kentuckians to join the pre-k effort and facilitate communication between advocates and state-level policymakers. The Strong Start Kentucky web address is: www.StrongStartKY.org.
As a first action, the web site will direct preschool advocates to a message they can send to state legislators acknowledging the $23 million annual increase in pre-k funding in the 2006-08 budget and urging them to make voluntary high-quality programs available for all children.
“Although Kentucky’s public preschool program serves many low-income 4-year-olds and 3-year-olds with disabilities, there are thousands of children who don’t have access to quality pre-k,” said Robert F. Sexton, executive director of the Prichard Committee. “This campaign will emphasize the importance of increasing the availability and affordability of quality preschool programs statewide.”
A report on preschool in Kentucky and proposed strategies and recommendations for improvement will be released prior to the 2008 General Assembly.