An initiative that has helped 11 private childcare centers in Jefferson County receive state pre-k funding is expanding into Blount, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties.
Pre-K advocates from across Central Alabama, including United Way’s Success by 6, Alabama School Readiness Alliance, and The Bold Goals Coalition announced on August 2nd, 2019 following a tour of Trinty Love Center in Bessemer located at 1905 8th Ave N. Bessemer, Alabama. The Trinity Love Center is a recent participant in the Bold Goals Early Learning Action Network’s Expanding Public Pre-K project. Trinity Love Center is the eleventh childcare facility in Jefferson County to receive a First Class Pre-K grant through this initiative. This year, Trinity Love will be adding a First Class Pre-K program after receiving the $120,000 state grant following their participation in the Bold Goals Early Learning Action Network’s Expanding Public Pre-K project. Through this project, Trinity Love Center can offer free high-quality first-class Pre-K to students and families in Bessemer and the surrounding areas. To take advantage of this free high-quality Pre-K program at Trinity Love Center call them at 205.5856359 or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/trinitylovecenter/
On hand for the announcement were Bessemer City Council Member Jarvis Collier, Childcare Resources Executive Director Joan Wright (Chair of Bold Goals Early Learning Action Network), United Way of Greater Birmingham President Drew Langloh, State Representative Louise Alexander, Trinity Love Center Executive Director Latonya Bender, and Alabama School Readiness Executive Director Allison Muhlendorf.
The Early Learning Action Network began three years ago. The initiative helps licensed childcare centers become Alabama First Class Pre-K providers through technical assistance and a continuous support system.
“Bold Goals is excited to support pre-k expansion in Central Alabama by helping childcare centers compete for First Class Pre-K grants. It’s crucial that the state pre-k program expands within the existing early childhood system. So many four-year-olds with working parents are already in childcare settings, and Alabama First Class Pre-K brings new resources to improve the quality of those settings,” said Joan Wright, Chair of the Bold Goals Early Learning Action Network. Wright is the Executive Director of Childcare Resources and also advocates for state pre-k expansion as a member of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s Pre-K Task Force.
The new First Class Pre-K classroom at Trinity Love Center is one of nearly 200 state-funded pre-kindergarten classrooms opening by September 1st as a result of the $26.8 million expansion approved by the state legislature this year. The program’s growth increases the total number of First Class Pre-K classrooms across Alabama to more than 1,200. However, there are still only enough classrooms statewide to enroll less than 40 percent of Alabama four-year-olds.
The Early Learning Action Network’s new five-county focus will officially kick off with an informational session for interested childcare centers in the region on Tuesday, September 10th from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Childcare Resources (244 W. Valley Avenue, Birmingham, Ala.). The informational session, which will feature discussions with past participants, will highlight the technical support and guidance the Early Learning Action Network provides participants. Interested parties should contact Catrice Pruitt (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
The Alabama School Readiness Alliance and The Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama organized today’s tour of Trinity Love Center. Members of the state legislative delegation and officials from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, which manages the First Class Pre-K program statewide.
For 13 years in a row, the National Institute for Early Education Research has ranked Alabama’s pre-k program as the number one state-funded pre-kindergarten program in the country for quality. New research by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found that students who participate in a First Class Pre-K classroom - regardless of demographics, zip code or school - are more likely to be proficient in math and reading than their peers.
“Receiving a First Class pre-k grant is more than a bump on your financial ledger,” said Allison Muhlendorf, the executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. “It gives early childhood teachers professional development and coaching unmatched anywhere in the country, and pay parity with public educators. Moreover, the best practices of First Class Pre-K spread throughout the center, improving the overall quality of care offered to families.”
Latonya Bender, the owner, and director of Trinity Love Center agrees. She said, “I believe by becoming a First Class Pre-K program that the overall quality of care I will provide will be multiplied and be shown throughout our center each day!”
The ASRA Pre-K Task Force first proposed expanding pre-k access to all families in 2012. That year the program enrolled just six percent of Alabama’s four-year-olds. Since then, state leaders have incrementally increased the level of investment in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program from $19 million to $122.8 million.
The Alabama School Readiness Alliance advocates for the expansion of high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten. ASRA works to ensure that pre-k is a continuing priority for Alabama’s children, parents, community leaders, legislators, and governing officials. ASRA is a collaborative effort of A+ Education Partnership, Alabama Giving, Alabama Partnership for Children and VOICES for Alabama’s Children. Visit alabamaschoolreadiness.org to learn more.
The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources, and agendas. We’ve been advocating and implementing the power of collective impact since 2014, and have been focused on advancing the health, education, and financial stability of all people in Central Alabama. Most of our work happens in Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties. Many organizations play leadership roles in our work. United Way of Central Alabama provides the primary staff and organizational support for the Bold Goals Coalition. Learn more at www.boldgoals.org.