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Proposed Bill Funds Preschool for Low Income Families

For many children, education doesn't begin in kindergarten, but in preschool. But with limited space in free programs like Universal Pre-K and Head Start, the cost of early education can be high. Now new legislation proposed by Congressman Richard Hanna will give low-income families better access to preschool.
For many children, education doesn't begin in kindergarten, but in preschool. But with limited space in free programs like Universal Pre-K and Head Start, the cost of early education can be high. Now new legislation proposed by Congressman Richard Hanna will give low-income families better access to preschool. The bill would allow four-year-olds to go to preschool completely free of charge, for families earning less than twice the federal poverty level. That means a family of four with an income of less than about fifty-thousand-dollars would have access to free early education.
"My son wouldn't listen for nothing and now he's listening, he knows his ABCs, he can read," said Brittany Moran.
She enrolled her 4-year-old in the free pre-k program at the First Nursery School of Utica, one of seven preschools in the Utica City School District. Right away, she saw a change in her son.
"They learn how to act in a classroom, they learn how to take turns and they learn how to share and so those social skills are very important," said Nadean Gleitsmann, director of First Nursery School of Utica.
The students are exposed to a pre-reading and pre-math curriculum to prepare for kindergarten.
"I learn about numbers!" said Tiffany, a preschool student.
But not every family gets the chance to take advantage of free early education.
"This pre-school serves more than 70 children free of charge but that still leaves up to 20 on a waiting list.
"We were full at the beginning of school and there were a number of parents who were disappointed, those students didn't get in," said Gleitsmann.
If these waitlisted families can't afford a tuition-based program, their children could be missing out.
"You'll be behind, so it was definitely a good thing to put my son in," said Moran.
The proposed bill could change this--it's a ten year, 9 billion dollar initiative, but Congressman Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) says it could actually save money in the long run. He sad, "High-quality early learning guarantees a reduction in spending on entitlements, welfare and incarceration."
"It will give them the chance for their kids to join other kids and not be left out just because of money," said Moran.
And with recent cuts to the Head Start Program, the Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency (MVCAA) told Eyewitness News they're hoping the bill will pass so they have the funds to educate more area children.
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