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Local preschool discusses potential impact of universal Pre-K

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 11:02 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan aims to help struggling families. As part of that effort, the president is calling for universal preschool for all, calling it an investment in our children. The plan aims to ensure an additional four years of education. It’s broken down to two years of preschool and two years of community college, at no cost. The plan also includes additional childcare assistance and extends the Child Tax Credit in the recently-passed American Rescue Plan.

TOP Early Learning Centers in Wichita serve about 600 children, most of them living in poverty.

“That’s the biggest challenge because childcare, or early childcare is no cheap,” said TOP Learning Centers Executive Director Cornella Stevens.

But now, children and families could benefit from the plan for universal preschool, Stevens said.

While Stevens said it’s not clear if TOPs Learning Centers will receive some of the funding from the president’s bill, she said it’s an exciting thought after an especially difficult year.

“It’s amazing,” Stevens said. “A big thing that I think is noticed nationally is, I think there is a silver lining if you call it, it’s that people have realized the importance of early education and childcare because a person can go to work if they have a safe place to take their child.”

Stevens said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year, TOP Learning Centers had about 200 few families enroll. The preschool with a few locations in Wichita does try to subsidize enrollment fees for families through grants and other programs, but money coming their way is a welcome sight after having doors closed for months.

For now, TOP Learning Centers is thankful to be open again, serving families.

“We are happy to be able to see the world open up again and seeing more families come to our doors and to be able to say, ‘yes, I’m ready now,’” Stevens said.

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