Lack of state money limits free preschool attendance
A new school year is right around the corner or already underway, but thousands of preschool-aged children in Colorado won't be able to go. There aren't enough slots for children who qualify for free preschool because of state budget shortfalls.
Locally, the Community Partnership for Child Development, offers free education and other services to kids from newborns up to 5-year-olds through three programs, Head Start, Early Head Start and the Colorado Preschool Program. But it can only provide services to 25 percent of 3 and 4-year-olds in El Paso County who are eligible.
This year, CPCD is funded to provide services to 1,900 children and their families. And the staff expects their wait-list to reach more than 1,000. The organization lost 142 slots because of sequestration, but it gained half of them back thanks to some state funding. The staff is also working with the local community to add 16 spots.
CPCD's CEO said it's heartbreaking when they're not be able to serve families.
"If children who are vulnerable to school readiness are not able to participate in a preschool program, they're very likely to start school behind and stay behind and therefore much more likely to drop out of high school, and potentially commit crimes, become teen parents," Noreen Landis-Tyson said. "All those things that we hope won't happen."
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