Last month, the California Department of Education announced that Contra Costa County will receive an annual $1.4 million block grant to improve preschool quality for low-income children.
The block grant was included in California’s 2014-15 State Budget and provides $50 million in ongoing grants to support quality improvements in California preschools. The goal is to increase the number of low-income children attending high-quality preschools, which research shows prepares children for success in school and life.
The CDE block grant builds upon the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) – a uniform system to rate, improve, and communicate levels of child care quality – being piloted in 16 California counties, including Contra Costa. Locally, 101 child care programs are participating in the QRIS pilot.
California is among 35 states and Puerto Rico vying for a share of $250 million the U.S. Department of Education has made available for states to improve their preschool programs. First 5 Contra Costa is included in this application, having signed on as part of the Bay Area Regional Consortia, which also includes Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco.
The grant is designed to expand preschool programs for at-risk children, including low-income children and those with special needs. Ultimately, the goal of the funding is to help states prepare to participate in President Obama’s Preschool for All Initiative, which would offer high-quality early care and education for all children.
A great deal of thought and consideration goes into selecting a quality preschool for your child. Experts say that the most important component of quality preschool is warm, nurturing teachers and caregivers. Quality preschool also includes the children’s day-to-day experiences as well as safe environments in which children can engage in interesting activities.
As you look for the right preschool, I recommend that you visit several different types of programs and bring your child with you when you visit. Trust your intuition. Continue your search until you find the right program for you and your child. Continue reading