Wednesday, May 5, 2021

County Approves $10 Million Plan to Fund Early Education Programs for Low-Income Families

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2021 at 8:11 AM

Danyelle Khmara/file photo

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve a $10 million plan to fund early education scholarships for low-income families at Tuesday's meeting.

On Feb. 16, the county approved a measure to allocate $10 million for the upcoming fiscal year budget to fund full or partial scholarships to parents who wish to enroll their 3- to 4-year-old children (or 5-year-olds not eligible for kindergarten) in high-quality early education programs.

The scholarship program works to help low-income families find reliable and affordable childcare. It's also designed to address the decline and loss of early childhood programs during the pandemic.

“Successful communities support the education of their children, and I’m proud to be part of a community that is giving our children the best possible chance for success through this program,” said District 1 Supervisor Rex Scott. “The data is undeniable—early education works. Children who benefit from early education on average do better in school throughout their careers, are more likely to graduate from high school and earn higher wages after graduation.”

The proposed multi-year Pima Early Education program, administered by Pima County Community and Workforce Development, would provide funding for 1,245 children and begin July 1. The plan includes:

  • Partnerships with eight school districts and Pima Community College to offer free, high-quality preschool to an estimated 480 children.
  • A partnership with First Things First, a state agency focused on early childhood development, to offer 560 additional scholarships to high-quality preschools within their "quality first" system, which includes school districts, daycare centers and home care.
  • A partnership with Child-Parent Centers to offer extended-day Head Start preschool programs at 11 locations for 205 children.

It also includes a solicitation of proposals to contract with an experienced organization to develop a three-year implementation plan to develop a scholarship program.

There is a possibility of about $3 million in additional funding for the program from other local jurisdictions and partners, such as the City of Tucson’s $1 million contribution for scholarships for schools within the city and Oro Valley proposing to provide $100,000 for the upcoming fiscal year to support a three-year commitment.

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