July 21, 2017
For further information, contact Amy Blanchard at Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, 641-236-5518.
The tri-county collaboration between Jasper, Marion and Poweshiek counties (JMP) that administers state funds to programs that benefit young children is reminding parents of preschoolers that tuition assistance may be available this fall at area early education centers. Research from the state’s Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) program offers evidence that children who attend quality preschool programs exhibit stronger language, math, thinking, and social skills and are better prepared for later school success.
JMP (aka “Jump”) was created in July 2012 to distribute funding from the state’s Early Childhood Iowa program. Because the target population in each of the JMP counties was smaller than the target population of 5,000 0-5 year-olds, the three counties formed a joint board to oversee grants to programs that serve at-risk children and families. The Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation (GPCF) serves as the JMP fiscal agent, and a board of nine—three representatives from each county—distributes funds for programs such as the preschool scholarships.
JMP board member Muriel Johannessen said that the JMP board sees itself in partnership with families and early childhood educators, “supporting and providing ways for children to receive those essential building blocks that will equip them for school and the learning that will take place in later years.
“JMP board members continue to seek ways to encourage this development and further enrich the training and skill level of those providing education for both children and families during these important early years.”
GPCF Program Manager Amy Blanchard serves as the ECI liaison to JMP and explains the importance of these funds to area children.
“Every child should be able to go to preschool when they are age 3. Research shows that 80 percent of a child’s brain development happens before age 5. JMP wants to help each eligible child have access to a quality preschool program. Each of the facilities that offers JMP scholarships has met state standards that ensure a strong curriculum, quality care, and a stable, safe environment in which to learn and play,” Blanchard said.
The preschool tuition scholarships are available to families at or below 200 percent of poverty level, as determined by the state. The scholarships may cover up to 100 percent of preschool cost, depending on family need verification and facility fund availability.
Last year JMP funds supported preschool scholarships at the following centers in the three-county area: BGM Preschool, Building Blocks Preschool in Pleasantville, Colfax Community Preschool, Colfax-Mingo Preschool, Creation Station in Pella, Diamond Trail Preschool in Lynnville, Grinnell Community Daycare & Preschool, Inspirations Preschool in Sully, Mustang Scholars Preschool in Prairie City, Newton YMCA Preschool, Peck Child Development Center in Newton, Pleasantville Preschool, SHARE Preschool, Twin Cedars Preschool, UCC Preschool in Grinnell, and Melcher-Dallas Preschool.
“I encourage parents to check with their local preschool to see if scholarships are currently available as new preschools are added each year. The application process is easy, and directors at the preschools can help families to complete the process,” Blanchard said.
Kathleen Whisenand, director at Grinnell Community Daycare & Preschool, emphasized that “all children who qualify can access the preschool scholarship. The scholarship fund works with our tuition rates to make it extremely affordable for families. Early childhood education is the foundation for children’s educational success. Children who attend preschool are better prepared for kindergarten.”
In addition to the state funds JMP administers, JMP also accepts private contributions to provide additional support to the various programs that support at-risk children and families. Individuals who wish to make private contributions to any of the early childhood programs within the JMP region may contact Blanchard at 641-236-5518, firstname.lastname@example.org. JMP is a nonprofit partner organization of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, whose vision is to “grow community through giving.” The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation provides back office support services to GPCF and partner organizations through its Community Support Services program.