02/26/12 — Officials waiting for word on pre-K funding

View Archive

Officials waiting for word on pre-K funding

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 26, 2012 1:50 AM

Officials at The Partnership for Children of Wayne County are in a "holding pattern" awaiting word from the state about funding for its Pre-K program.

Gov. Bev Perdue this past week announced she is shifting unused child-care subsidy money to enroll another 2,000 at-risk 4-year-olds in a state program to help better prepare them to enter kindergarten.

The $9.3 million will be used on a limited basis for the N.C. Pre-Kindergarten program. It reportedly will be applied to enroll children in public and private preschools statewide for five months, beginning in March, wrapping up in time for these students to start kindergarten.

Valerie Wallace, assistant executive director at the Partnership, said her office had been notified via e-mail, but nothing specific had been released from the state.

"They're making calls to counties to find out which counties can serve the children," she said Thursday. "We haven't received our phone call yet so right now we do not know if we have slots or not."

The additional funding would be appreciated by the local Partnership, even if it is on a limited basis, officials there said.

"We have been proactive, got, hopefully, places for them to go with qualified teachers, classrooms have already been established," said Charles Ivey, executive director. "We're just waiting to hear something from the powers-that-be.

"It's a wonderful opportunity. We just wish that that could be extended. They're one-time slots. They're not guaranteed beyond July 31."

Ms. Wallace said every county that requested slots was told that they could expect calls from their consultant.

"(The state) wants us to work with DSS (Department of Social Services) to see if there are children on their waiting list that can be placed," she said. "We just don't know what we're going to get, if we're going to get any.

"Right now, we're just in a holding pattern with Pre-K. ... They're wanting to know what we have in place, what we could serve."

She added that her staff has been working out logistics of what the local needs are and continues to solicit applications for the program, pending notification by the state.