Group Has A Goal Of Improving Access To Preschool In Macon County

Oct 27, 2014

Credit flickr: EdenJanineJim

Getting more kids into pre-school might not solve all the problems, but there is mounting evidence that it can help ensure a child gets off to a good start. 

However, some communities struggle to get more youngsters into early learning.  

The Education Coalition of Macon County has studied the issue there and found some pressing needs when it comes to early childhood education. 

Sarah Bjelland is the group's Research and Data Manager.

"About 50% of our children in Macon County are born to a mother who is 24 or younger, which means they have a very high likelihood of having a mother who doesn't have a high school education or who only has a high school education," she said.  Mothers who lack more education often have low earning potential and that can impact the ability for them to pay for preschool.  

While the state had made a priority of providing subsidies for early childhood education, funding cuts have reduced the amount available.   

Macon County also has an issue with capacity.  Bjelland said it can be a problem for those who can afford to pay and those who can't.  But those who get subsidies have an even harder time. 

Action committees will take the data in the latest report and begin working on solutions. 

"Children are ready to begin interacting with their peers somewhere between 18 months and 2 years old," Bjelland added.  "Certainly by the time they are 3 or 4, that kind of social and emotional interactions with other kids their age... Those are key."

The group has also been promoting a Kindergarten Readiness Campaign to help parents understand some of the skills children need so they are more prepared when they enter.