Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Grants will support early childhood education

A young girl works on her fine motor skills as a participant in the Up 4 West Sac program, one of the beneficiaries of new state grants supporting early childhood education. Courtesy photo

Children from birth through age 5 who are in child care and preschool in Yolo County will get a boost in services, thanks to nearly $4.3 million in grant awards from First 5 Yolo and the Yolo County Office of Education.

The money, to be distributed this year to cover services over a three-year period, is from First 5 California and the California Department of Education.

Much of the money will be used to directly support child care provider and preschool teacher at their sites. Financial awards are customized to ensure that the teachers/providers get what they need to make their classroom or family home a better place to teach kids.

“It could be as simple as purchasing curriculum that a teacher needs, equipment for physical activity or additional training in areas such as social-emotional or special needs,” a First 5 Yolo news release said. “In some cases, an award might be used to offset costs for parents so they can afford that preschool experience for their child.”

More than $4.2 million is being directed to three areas: Child Signature Programs, Comprehensive Approach to Raising Education Standards (CARES) and Race to the Top. The three-year Child Signature Programs funding cycle will support “Up 4 West Sac,” an early learning quality enhancement project targeting children ages 0-5 enrolled in family or center-based child care and preschool in West Sacramento.

Funding at UP4WS is being used to increase the ratio of teachers to children, provide family support staff and provide mental health services for kids and parents. Funding also ensures that 30 public preschool classrooms throughout Yolo County will be assessed and supported to raise quality standards based on program improvement plans.

The Yolo Race to the Top project establishes a quality rating and improvement system for early education and care programs, a tiered scale assessing the quality of a site based on multiple criteria. Private and public classrooms, centers and licensed family child care providers are enrolled in the program.

“When the project is complete, parents can walk in the door and they will be able to see the posted rating of a 1 through 4, with 4 being the highest level of quality,” said Julie Gallelo, executive director of First 5 Yolo. “As the annual assessments are done, we hope parents and teachers will see how their ratings have improved through training and help with the curriculum.”

Teachers and providers will be asked to develop a plan for improvement for the next two years and will have an opportunity to improve their ratings on an annual basis.

CARES, administered through Yolo County Office of Education, supports all of these programs by offering educational support, professional training and accompanying stipends to teachers and child care providers. This is a professional development program that encourages teachers, early educators and child care providers to continue their education in child development.

For more information about these programs or First 5 Yolo, visit www.first5yolo.org.

First 5 Yolo is funded by the November 1998 statewide ballot initiative that added a tax of 50 cents per pack on cigarette sales. The funds are used to support education, health and child care programs that promote early childhood development from birth through age 5.

Enterprise staff

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