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Foundation Launches Early Childhood Education Initiative

Early childhood education advocates say an extra year of learning before kindergarten helps children get ahead when they enter elementary school.

Fifty more children in Monroe County are attending pre-school this year because of a local foundation’s initiative focusing on early childhood education. The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has increased its allocations to community schools and other early education programs.

Three new preschool classes have already begun this year —two at Richland-Bean Blossom and one at Grandview Elementary. Another class at Fairview Elementary began last year as a pilot project. While the classes are open to all students, the Early Childhood Education Initiative is aimed particularly at low-income students that do not qualify for other programs such as Head Start.

Grandview Elementary Principal Lily Albright says the school’s parent liaison is also working to focus on educating parents before their children are even enrolled.

“We can only allow 20 students in, that all the room and staffing that we have, so we want to continue to think of how we can bridge that gap between home and school,” Albright says.

Focus on early childhood education has increased in recent years both on the local and state level.

Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County CEO Tina Peterson says with the legislature funding full-day kindergarten this year, she hopes it is only a matter of time before state money is dedicated to younger learners as well.

“The data out there tells us that especially children who have had no socialization or come from families where they don’t have a background of early childhood education benefit substantially from an additional year of school,” Peterson says.

She says Indiana is one of only 12 states that does not fund programs for children before they start kindergarten.

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