04/11/12 — Partnership has no problem filling extra pre-K slots

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Partnership has no problem filling extra pre-K slots

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 11, 2012 1:46 PM

The additional N.C. pre-K slots opened up by the state last month have been a welcome reprieve for Partnership for Children of Wayne County, but officials aren't counting on that continuing next year.

In early March, the state notified the Partnership that it could enroll 45 more students in classes that would run from March 15 through July 31.

Funding came from an estimated $9.3 million of unused child-care subsidy money that the governor announced in February would be distributed around the state to enroll an estimated 2,000 at-risk 4-year-olds.

When the announcement was made that Wayne County was among the funding recipients, Partnership staff immediately set out to find potential candidates, sifting through applications and previous waiting lists, and fielding calls from interested parents.

"We were able to open three classes. All three are now completely full with kids that had previously been unserved so we're really excited about it," said Charles Ivey, executive director of the Partnership. "It gives them like a six-month start to kindergarten."

The classes were added at three different day care centers in the county, Ivey said.

"The pre-K committee from the Partnership had talked about this on numerous occasions," he explained. "They primarily looked at facilities that had lost classes and the pre-K program."

Whitney Jansta, community services coordinator, said she did not know the exact number of calls that came in but could attest to there being much interest from the public.

"We had lots of people call, lots of people coming in, but not all of those were eligible," she said. "But we did have a really good interest from that."

Ivey said he was pleased to be able to fill every slot and provide eligible families with access to a quality preschool program.

"We're pretty tight right now because we went out and located some kids that had not previously been on waiting lists," he said. "There may be some more that could be served, but there are none at this point."

With funding streams still in question, Ivey said he can't anticipate what the coming year will look like for the local and state pre-K program.

"We're still in the wait-and-see mode," he said this week. "The word is of course that these slots will not be renewed for next year. This is a one-time deal.

"Hopefully we can maintain the (543) pre-K slots that we already have this year."

The pre-K program is open to children turning 4 years old by Aug. 31, with other eligibility requirements. For more information about the program or enrollment contact Valerie Wallace at 735-3371 ext. 231, or visit the Partnership office, 800 N. William St., Monday through Thursday between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.