The Starke County Community Foundation is hosting its fourth annual Preschool Fair for local children and their families tomorrow evening at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center. Development Director Sarah Origer says a number of local programs will be represented at this one-stop shop. She encourages families to look seriously at early childhood education opportunities.
“Research shows that when young people are able to go to preschool, they’re more likely to graduate from high school. They’re more likely to go on to receive postsecondary degrees. They’re less likely to be incarcerated. They’re less likely to need remedial assistance. They’re less likely to be on welfare as adults.”
Origer adds the Starke County Community Foundation has scholarships available to help eligible families afford to send their children to preschool.
“In the past four years we’ve been able to offer 81 children preschool scholarships, and we’ve been able to do that for only $51,000. We’re really pleased with the program. What we’re really excited to see is what our graduation rate numbers look like 15 years from now. That’s when we’ll really be able to see the impact.”
Origer says the community foundation is not able to track the progress of individual preschool graduates who are in elementary school due to privacy laws, but they can notch progress by looking at improvements to standardized tests.
“We like to talk about data, and lots of people are interested in that, but at the end of the day, we’re pleased when one child has a great experience for a year, has a great foundation, and we’ve made an impact on that one life. That matters.”
Information about the Starke County Community Foundation Preschool Scholarship Program is available from any preschool in Starke County. Funds are distributed directly to the school. The fourth annual Starke County Community Foundation Preschool Fair will take place tomorrow evening from 4:30 until 6 p.m. at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in downtown Knox. Visit http://nicf.org/starke/index.html for more information.