Seats at High Quality Cleveland Preschools Expand By More Than 1200

PRE4CLE Annual Report

It’s been one year since Cuyahoga County, Cleveland public schools, and several area foundations teamed up in an effort to enroll all of Cleveland’s preschool-aged kids in high quality programs.  Ideastream’s Annie Wu reports on PRE4CLE’s first annual report.

About 67 percent of three and four year old Cleveland kids are not in high quality preschools.  Some of them aren’t in any preschool program at all.  According to a new report released this week from the public-private partnership PRE4CLE, the Jefferson, Clark-Fulton and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods have some of the lowest enrollment figures in the city.  PRE4CLE Executive Director Katie Kelly says part of her group’s challenge is helping to expand preschool options that prepare children for kindergarten and meet the needs of parents in those neighborhoods.

"Schools end at 3 o’clock where many childcare providers can stay open until 6 o’clock providing a more flexible option for working families for example.  So as we talk about making sure that high quality exists in every neighborhood, we know the type of care that families need."

At the end of the 2014-2015 preschool year, seats in high quality Cleveland pre-schools increased by more than 1200, according to the report.  PRE4CLE provided grants that helped open four preschool classrooms in the Glenville, Union-Miles, and Buckeye-Shaker Square neighborhoods where high quality programs were lacking.  The goal is to create 2000 preschool seats by the end of 2016 that are rated between 3 to 5 stars by the state’s Step Up to Quality rating system.  The report points out that only 33% of the city’s 12,400 preschool-aged kids are enrolled in a high quality program.  Executive Director Katie Kelly says her group’s goal is to remove the barriers that are keeping parents from putting their children in these programs.

"We have our eyes squarely on those 67% of families and making sure things like financial barriers, transportation barriers, lack of understanding of where to find those schools are removed so that children can participate in those high quality programs."

Kelly says testing of kids in high quality Cleveland preschools found 80% of them were on track to be prepared for kindergarten.  It’s unclear the percentage of kids attending lower quality preschools who are kindergarten-ready, since PRE4CLE didn’t test those children.

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