Nevada was one of 18 states awarded federal grant money by the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday to help the state’s struggling pre-Kindergarten and preschool programs.
In its first installment, Nevada will receive about $6.4 million – a small number compared to Arizona’s or Illinois’ $20 million – as part of a $226 million total Preschool Development Grants program.
But it’s something. In the past, Nevada has had to compete for federal dollars against states with much larger populations and bigger urban cities and, therefore, often missed out. According to Denise Tanata Ashby, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, fewer than 3 percent of Nevada’s total pre-school aged children are actually enrolled in a program – a total of about 1,440 students.
That could be due to the fact that Nevada has a large population of poor and at-risk children who, coincidentally, are the ones least likely to be able to afford a private preschool program but are also the ones who are most likely to need it. So what is the next step in getting more children into preschool programs?
Denise Tanata Ashby, executive director, Children’s Advocacy Alliance