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State Funds Falling for Pre-Kindergarten Programs

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--
A national report finds that Iowa ranks 7th in the country, when it comes to enrolling 4-year-olds in pre-school.

That's despite the fact that across the nation such programs are losing their state funding some of them drastically.

Still several corridor agencies say what should be good news, isn't.

Pre-K programs like Waypoint are partly self-funded, but families who bring their children here can qualify to receive funding from the state.

 As of late due to the sequestration, some programs likes these will have to cut back because the state can no longer afford them.

Playtime for these four year olds at waypoint means hanging out with friends and learning how to interact with peers, something educators say helps prepare them for kindergarten.

"Every child that goes through childcare and through pre-school programing just start out so much ahead,” said Way Point director of Child Care Services Jen Kovach.

While it's mostly self-funded, Waypoint also receives funding from united way and the state's department of human services, but not too long ago, they had a state funded pre-school program that was completely free for families with pre-k children.

"We actually stopped doing that program about two years ago because sensed that the funding was going to be getting cut, she said.

It did. Now with the federal sequestration cuts, the money problems here are only getting worse especially for the federally funded HACAP Headstart program.

The loss means 70 children in their six county area will have to go someplace else come fall.

Collins says they are already implementing plans to make sure the cuts won't affect those already in these classes

"It will just be a matter of looking at at our waiting list and moving those children into spots that we have available,” said Headstart Training Coordinator Cheryl Collins.

Perhaps the biggest silver lining, a decade ago Iowa ranked 31st in the nation - so progress is being made.

"My goal is to see every four-year-old child be able to have the opportunity to attend a pre-school program,” said Kovach.

One other silver lining - when it comes to enrolling three-year olds in pre-school, Iowa is one of six  that spent more money than the year before.

 
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