Making quality preschool available to more Kentucky children was the focus of a recent meeting of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
The statewide citizens advocacy group has launched the Strong Start Kentucky campaign, working in partnership with the national organization Pre-K Now to expand and enhance pre-kindergarten throughout the state. Pre-K Now is a public education and advocacy organization, supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, that emphasizes making high-quality, voluntary pre-k available in a variety of settings.
Kentucky performs relatively well on national quality checklists for pre-k, she said, adding that it is important to help communities, civic groups and other organizations understand the importance and benefits of quality pre-k programs. Those benefits include higher graduation rates, reduced crime rates, greater earnings and higher student achievement for people who participate in quality programs.
Still, Kentucky’s statistics point up the need:
275,000 children under the age of 6
46 percent of children living in families whose incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level
11 percent of children living in extreme poverty – below 50 percent of the poverty level
63 percent of mothers with children under 6 are in the workforce
194,700 children under 6 potentially need child care each day
The state’s public preschool program, which serves low-income 4-year-old children (family income 150 percent of poverty or less) and 3- and 4-year-old children with a disability, provides services for more than 24,500 children.