By Dillon Mullan
For Corinth Today
Mississippi has been awarded a $10.62-million grant to improve the state’s early childhood education, Gov. Phil Bryant announced Wednesday.
“MS has been awarded $10.62 million for the Preschool Development Grant – from birth to 5,” Bryant tweeted. “My State Early Childhood Advisory Council, in partnership with (Mississippi Department of Human Services), has developed a system that focuses on achieving and maintaining high quality childcare services.”
The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is estimated to reach 60,000 Mississippi families with children from ages birth to five.
Mississippi currently does not offer universal pre-kindergarten through its public schools. As a result, thousands of students each year arrive at kindergarten without any classroom experience, and start school behind their peers.
Last school year, 1,955 students attended one of Mississippi’s 14 pre-K collaboratives. Across 110 public school districts without collaboratives, 5,401 students attended a public school pre-K program. In the whole state, there were 35,983 kindergartners.
That means the pre-K population at collaboratives and public schools was equal to 20.44 percent of the kindergarten population.
The new federal grant funds will help expand the system and maximize parental choice and engagement.
The main goal is to ensure children have a smooth transition from child care centers and Head Start and into the public school system.