Early learning programs may be cut by legislature - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Early learning programs may be cut by legislature

KENNEWICK, Wash.-- It's just before lunch for Pre-schoolers at the Children's Center in Kennewick. Now they're getting a little bit of free time, but most of the morning they're hard at work learning their a-b-c's and 1-2-3's. The ECEAP and Head Start programs give at risk kids a chance to have a leg up once they get to kindergarten.

"What we're trying to do is get quality preschool services to as many children as we can," says Jim Skucy, Executive Director of the Benton Franklin Head Start. "Starting with the high risk kids that we know we're going to struggle once they get into kindergarten."

And they're getting results. Most kids who complete both years dramatically increase their language and math skills, from just 1 letter recognized when they start to nearly the full alphabet when they're done. And by the time they're four, they can nearly count to twenty.

"Children come to us with maybe with low language skills possibly with no social skills," says teacher Jennifer WhiteCrane. "As the year progresses we can see that change as they learn to communicate better and socialize with other children better."

But severe cuts to ECEAP could be on the way as the state tries to dig out of a budget hole billions deep; and it may be hard to avoid the chopping block. But our local senators don't want that to come.

"I am going to be pushing for that and try to convince my fellow colleagues that this should be a top priority," says Sen. Jerome Delvin (D-Richland.) 

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