Issue 9: Making Preschool a Reality for Montgomery County Families
October 13, 2016
Meredith Lavey sees everyday how the Montgomery County Preschool Promise is impacting parents and children living in Northwest Dayton and Kettering. For instance, when she told a parent that she was eligible for $500 of monthly tuition assistance, the woman burst into tears and kept asking Meredith to double check and make sure the amount was correct.
“So many of those who are applying are not able to qualify for public funding but don’t have the resources to afford quality child care,” Meredith says. “All income levels are able to benefit from Preschool Promise dollars, but the middle- and lower- income families are receiving truly life changing assistance.”
4C and preschool expansion
Beginning in August of this year, the Preschool Promise demonstration model that began in Kettering was extended to Northwest Dayton. 4C was instrumental in implementing both models.
Meredith, 4C family and community services specialist, is heading up the parent enrollment process for the initiative. The goal is that by 2024 70 percent of all Montgomery County children will be attending preschool.
In addition 4C staff are working to enroll quality-rated providers and to offer coaching and support to help providers obtain, increase or maintain quality ratings. “We’re seeing a lot of growth as parents hear about the Preschool Promise,” Meredith says. To date 170 parents have applied—and that number is continuing to grow.
Quality is key
Ensuring that programs continually have the resources and knowledge to offer quality programming is a bedrock principle of the Preschool Promise.
That’s why the 4C Board of Trustees has endorsed the City of Dayton Issue 9, which will help fund the Montgomery County Preschool Promise with a quarter percent earned income tax. This increase will help support tuition for 4-year-olds who reside in the city and who attend a rated program in Montgomery County.
“We’re working to help reinforce that high quality programming is essential to helping children get the best start in life,” Meredith says.
For some, having the opportunity to give their children that start is more than they could have imagined. A recently divorced mother related that without tuition assistance there was no way she could afford a quality child care program. She was faced with choosing to make either food or preschool a priority. “The Montgomery County Preschool Promise is making a huge impact,” Meredith says. It’s an impact felt now by families and young learners that will benefit the community and the workforce in years to come.