Kentucky received a $36 million grant to help prepare children for kindergarten

Nearly $12 million will be used to educate Kentucky’s youngest child each year for the next three years, thanks to federal grants focused on preparing children for kindergarten.

Holding her toddler daughter, Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman announced a $36 million grant from the Office of Early Childhood Development during a news conference Thursday.

“Our youngest students deserve the best start in school and in life, and this investment will make a difference to our children, but will also enhance our workforce and our economy,” said Coleman. “It will allow our parents to return to work and it will help prepare students for the future, for their future.”

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Increased funding will help develop and expand early learning programs; building talent pipelines for the early childhood education workforce and expanding access to high-quality learning for children most in need, according to a release from Gov. Andy Beshear’s office.

Research shows children who are exposed to early learning programs, such as pre-K, are more likely to be proficient in math and reading than their peers who are not.

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“When a young child enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82% chance that the child will have mastered basic skills by age 11 compared to a 45% chance for children who are not school ready,” according to a report by The Bridgespan Group that cited the governor’s office.

In addition to federal funding, Kentucky is also increasing its state funding for early childhood education, with the legislature approving $125.9 million for the upcoming budget, according to the release.

“Kentucky has long promoted greater collaboration, emphasizing high quality and continuous improvement to ensure more children are ready to enter kindergarten,” said Amy Neal, executive director of the Governor’s Office for Early Childhood. “Our innovative and ambitious plan with this new federal funding will continue to transform the commonwealth into the best place to start and raise families.”

Contact reporter Krista Johnson at [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky receives $36 million to help prepare children for kindergarten