On My Way

EARLY LEARNING — Amber Visser plays a game with students in her preschool class.

Attention parents of 4-year-olds: On My Way Pre-K has slots available for children to attend preschool at no cost to qualifying families.

Scholarship applications for On My Way Pre-K, now in its second year in Howard County, currently are being accepted, according to project manager Kim Gordon. Any qualifying family can receive a full grant to their choice of certified preschool in Howard County.

“Research has shown that 90 percent of brain development happens between birth and age 5. As part of the Howard County’s ’75 in 5’ goal, we have seen the children that go through preschool or a high-quality preschool are more ready for kindergarten,” said Gordon. “In preschool they’re learning the social skills, emotional skills, and self-regulation that gets them ready for kindergarten.”

The 75 in 5 goal, started by United Way of Howard and Tipton Counties, aims to have 75 percent of 5-year-olds ready for kindergarten by 2022.

To qualify for the free preschool, children must be 4 years old by Aug. 1, and families must have an income below 127 percent of the federal poverty level, which comes out to about $2,600 a month or less for a family of four. The grant is a first-come, first-serve basis.

Howard County has 100 On My Way Pre-K scholarships available for children and families in 2019-2020, said David Owen, 75in5 Early Learning Coalition Chairman.

“These scholarship opportunities allow us to help prepare 100 more children for kindergarten, ultimately getting us closer to our community goal of 75in5,” said Owen.

Families can choose between high-quality preschools throughout the county. Approved preschool include Bona Vista, the YMCA Microchips, Finding Me Now, St. Joan of Arc and Patrick School, Busy Bee Daycare, and Sunbeam Childcare in Greentown. The programs begin the first week of August.

Electronic applications, in both English and Spanish, as well as a printable paper application, are available on OnMyWayPreK.org or unitedwayhoco.org/on-my-way-pre-k/. Paper applications may be submitted to United Way serving Howard and Tipton Counties Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., located at 210 W. Walnut St.

Additional providers still are being sought as well. For more information, call 765-457-8273.