Governor Chet Culver announced on June 9 that approximately 4,506 more Iowa children will have access to a quality preschool experience during the upcoming school year. The children will be provided access in an additional 150 school districts and school district collaborations under the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for 4-Year-Old Children.
It is projected that during the 2010-2011 school year, an estimated total of 21,354 4-year-old children will be served by the preschool program in 326 school districts across the state.
"Four years ago when I was elected, I promised Iowa's families a voluntary preschool program. In partnership with the Legislature we funded the last installment of my four-year, $60 million commitment to preschool," Governor Culver said. "I am proud that under my administration, the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program was enacted. This program helps to ensure that 22,000 Iowa 4-year-olds will have the opportunity to have a quality preschool experience that will be the springboard for success in school, the workplace and life. And we are not going to stop there. By the 2011-2012 school year every 4-year-old whose family chooses to enroll them in this program will have access to a quality preschool in their community."
This is the final installment of the Governor's four-year, $60 million commitment to expand the opportunity for Iowa's young children to access quality preschool environments and enter school ready to learn. The Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for 4-Year-Old Children was established on May 10, 2007 when the Governor signed House File 877.
Local 4-year-old preschool programs are provided through collaboration. In fact, school districts are required to collaborate with parents, families, community organizations, business representatives, and other partners in developing their application or implementing the program. In addition, program standards outline what is meant by quality, including having a certified teacher in the classroom.
"We have heard from parents whose children attend the 4-year-old program that their son or daughter is ready to learn and take the next step to kindergarten," Iowa Department of Education Acting Director Kevin Fangman said. "Establishing quality program standards, such as having a licensed teacher in the classroom, is essential to this program and what it offers children."
National research shows that children who have participated in a quality preschool program have better language and math skills and better cognitive and social skills than do children in lower-quality settings. Evaluations conducted over time have also found that children in high-quality programs were less likely to drop out of school, repeat grades, or get into future trouble with the law.
The Iowa Department of Education received 146 applications representing 150 districts across the state of Iowa. The Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program funding will allow the awarded districts - in collaboration with community partners and private providers - to offer at least 10 hours a week of quality preschool instruction. All the districts that applied this year for the program grant and met required qualifications under House File 877 received funding.
The estimated amount of funding that each district will receive the first year is based on approximately 37 percent of their kindergarten enrollment from October 2009. The funding for the first year comes from an appropriation from the state Legislature. The selected districts will not need to reapply next school year. After the first year, the program will receive state funding based on the number of students in the program. Certified enrollment counts are taken in the fall.
- The newly selected districts and the counties in which they reside is available here.
- For a Fact Sheet on the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for 4-Year-Old Children, please click here.
- For more information on the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for 4-Year-Old Children, please click here.