Interested families must enroll by the start of school, said Robyn Lightcap, the director of Preschool Promise. The nonprofit estimates 120 kids will sign up for preschool through Huber Heights’ expanded program in the next school year.
“We want to make sure we’re helping families in Huber be able to help their kids get at least one year of high-quality preschool,” Lightcap said.
Huber Heights schools are adding a preschool classroom to their existing preschool with a Preschool Promise grant of up to $200,000, which will add up to 40 additional slots. The district will bill for actual costs of the teachers and benefits, Lightcap said.
Lightcap said the demand from families to get their kids into preschool is so high, the nonprofit is also working with existing private preschools and helping families with tuition.
Nine childcare or preschool sites located in Huber Heights have signed up as partners for the next school year, Lightcap said. The nine sites have 18 preschool classrooms and one family child-care provider.
Vanisa Turney, Studebaker Preschool principal, said the school district is currently hiring a preschool teacher and a preschool paraprofessional. Half of the 40 students will be served in the morning and half in the afternoon, Turney said.
The district will also be able to get more educational materials to students and families, and benefit from professional development for teachers offered through Preschool Promise, she added.
Lightcap said according to Preschool Promise statistics, about a third of children in Huber Heights are not attending preschool by age four. “We know that the cost, schedule and availability are all issues for families,” Lightcap said.
Huber Heights joins seven other public school districts – Dayton, Jefferson Twp., Kettering, Mad River, Northridge, Trotwood-Madison and West Carrollton – in offering Preschool Promise to families.
Childcare is expensive — costing between $10,000 and $15,000 for high-quality, year-round care, according to Lightcap — and can be difficult to find. There’s also a shortage of childcare teachers, a job that requires a college degree. But the median hourly wage for a childcare worker in the U.S. is between $12.24 and $15.35, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Preschool Promise is funded by a mix of public and private donors. Its goal is to get all children access to quality preschool so they can be ready for kindergarten.
According to Preschool Promise’s 2020-2021 annual report, 69% of fall 2020 kindergartners who were enrolled in Preschool Promise tested either “approaching” or “demonstrating” readiness on Ohio’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, versus 58% of all other children.