Hundreds More Area Children Gain Access to the Highest Quality Pre-K in the Nation

Last week, the Bold Goals Coalition’s Early Learning Action Network hosted its First Class Pre-K Grant Application Kick-off at Childcare Resources. It was a great day for the expansion of quality, public Pre-K!

A packed house of child care providers came to learn about getting help and support with their First Class Pre-K applications.

Sixty-six child care providers, representing all five counties in the Bold Goals footprint, as well as others from the Calhoun County and Huntsville communities, attended the kick-off. Child care centers that participate in an Early Learning Action Network cohort receive assistance from a host of organizations that provide comprehensive support to increase their capacity to receive First Class Pre-K funding from the State of Alabama.

Secretary Jeana Ross (pictured here) of the Alabama State Department of Early Childhood Education discussed the state’s commitment to continue expanding First Class Pre-K while maintaining quality standards. Other presenters shared how child care providers can access our network for game-changing support in the areas of grant-writing training, budgeting workshops, technical assistance and stipends to cover classroom enhancements.

To date, the Early Learning Action Network has helped 11 child care centers in our area become First Class Pre-K sites. This means that there are now almost 200 more slots available every year for Central Alabama children in the highest quality Pre-K in the nation. But we still need to add many more classrooms to provide access for all children in our region. Building on its success in Jefferson County, the Early Learning Action Network has now expanded to all five Central Alabama counties and aims to serve 15 more centers this year with the help of a United Way Vision Council Grant and assistance from UAB student fellows.

Across Alabama, 164 more First Class Pre-K classrooms are opening this fall following a $26.8-million expansion of the program approved by the state legislature earlier this year. That increases the total number of First-Class Pre-K classrooms across Alabama to more than 1,200.

Partners in the Bold Goals Early Learning Action Network include Childcare Resources, Alabama Public Television, United Way Success by 6, UAB, the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, and the Walker Area Community Foundation.

The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.