Day-care centers receive grants

Monday, July 10, 2006

Two Cape Girardeau day-care centers will receive $130,000 each in state grants to expand their preschool programs.

Forty more preschool children could be served by the two centers, a state education official said.

The two centers combined already benefit from $115,000 in Missouri Preschool Project grants. The latest grants are from the same program.

In all, Christian School for the Young Years will receive $205,000 while Community Day School will receive $170,000 in state funding or the fiscal year that began July 1, state education officials said.

Fee revenue from gambling boats funds the eight-year-old Missouri Preschool Project.

"We have over 200 preschool programs in the state currently operating," said Jo Ann Ralston, director of early childhood education for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The preschool project funds programs in Missouri school districts and at licensed private preschools. The money is used for everything from supplies to teacher salaries and teacher training.

This fiscal year Missouri plans to spend more than $13 million on grants to preschool programs, Ralston said.

The grants now fund preschool programs serving more than 4,600 3- and 4-yerar-olds in Missouri.

The two Cape Girardeau day-care centers were among 15 school districts and private preschools that garnered the latest grants totaling more than $1.7 million. Cape Girardeau was the only city to have two grant recipients.

"Helping schools and communities provide high quality early education programs is one of the best ways we can support families and young children," Gov. Matt Blunt said in announcing the grants.

Christian School for the Young Years, 735 N. Clark St., has benefited from the grant program for the past six years.

The latest preschool grant is the school's third, said owner Janet Goodin.

The grant, which includes start-up money for another preschool classroom, will also provide money needed to hire two new teachers to serve up to 20 additional preschool children.

Goodin's facility already has a grant-funded classroom serving about 20 preschool children, Ralston said.

Missouri Preschool Project requires grant recipients to have sliding fees so that low-income families can afford to enroll their children in preschool programs, she said.

Grant recipients also must hire qualified teachers and implement a curriculum that meets state standards, Ralston said.

Community Day School, 1912 Broadway, has received grant funding for the past four years, Ralston said.

Like Christian School for the Young Years, Community Day plans to hire two more preschool teachers. Community Day also is working toward obtaining national accreditation, said owner Kathy Moore.

Community Day would also be able to serve another 20 preschool children, doubling its current capacity for children that age.

Both day-care operations serve older students, too. The grant money only can be used for preschool operations, Ralston said.

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