New push to get more Toledo kids into Pre-K programs

New push to get more Toledo kids into Pre-K programs
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The push is on to get more Toledo kids into pre-school. Leaders of a group spearheading this plan are now looking for new funding sources to get more kids ready for kindergarten.

The estimate from Hope Toledo is that there are about 3700-4000 4-year-olds in Toledo. About a quarter of them are not enrolled in Pre-K and maybe in a few years that’s not the case.

10 community-based providers give about 160 kids a chance at Pre-K education they may not have had. That’s what the Hope Toledo demonstration project has produced so far.

“We’ve got some great community-based providers in our community that are doing excellent work. They still need support to expand what they’re doing and make sure they can serve the families in their entirety,” said John C. Jones, President and CEO of Hope Toledo.

That’s why Jones came to Toledo City Council for $1.25 million from the city’s federal Rescue Act dollars to get more kids into Pre-K.

“That’s what’s going to bring the families out of their space to say ‘I don’t know if I trust it.’ We want to make sure they trust the space. It takes all of us working collectively to do that,” said Jones.

“What one preschool might offer, another preschool might not so they learn from each other,” said Nancy Okuley for Hope Toledo in the Professional Development department.

Additional providers mean more chances for kids who’s families don’t qualify for current free programs like head start but can’t quite afford a full tuition.

“When children go to preschool and we talk about being ready for kindergarten it’s not just knowing your letters and numbers it’s also that socialization and really being able to go out of the house and be involved with other children,” said Okuley.

Hope Toledo is currently funded through private and public dollars. Some council members asked about sustained financial planning. Jones admits all that has not been figured out yet but discussions to get roughly 1000 more kids education yearly, are worth having.

“If you do the math on that one quarter, that means in the next four years we would have put 4000 kids into kindergarten that didn’t have the preparation. And you start extrapolating that number over a K-12 period and then you ask the question ‘why aren’t our graduation rate numbers where they need to be?’” said Jones.

The earliest council could vote on this will be next week but expect more meetings to be held to fully flush out how Hope Toledo would use those dollars. Money is also expected to be asked of Lucas County Commissioners as well.

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