Foster Care Children To Get Free Pre-School
Some pre-school education in Santa Clarita will be given out to help children.
Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) has launched a community-benefit program that aims to enroll children in foster or relative care into preschools at no cost as part of efforts to better prepare this at-risk population for kindergarten and beyond.
As part of this initiative, LAUP will offer free preschool to any child in foster care who lives in Los Angeles County and turns four-years-old by Dec. 2 of the preschool program year, which runs from July through June. Four-year-olds who are not in foster care, but reside with relatives other than their birth parents, may also attend for free. Foster parents and relative caregivers with children enrolled in LAUP preschools will also be offered additional training and support.
The goal of the Foster and Relative Care Initiative is to increase enrollment of this targeted group of children into LAUP preschools to give them a better start in life. The program will also provide families with early identification, screenings, referrals and follow-up for developmental delays or concerns among those children, whom experts say are at a higher risk of dropping out of high school due to unique challenges.
“Foster kids tend to have more serious and complex health, mental and developmental problems than the general population,” said Relda Robertson-Beckley, vice president of Program Planning and Development. “By enrolling them in high-quality preschools, we are giving these children a better start in life that will likely help them to succeed in school and throughout their adulthood.”
It is estimated that only 18 percent of eligible foster children in Los Angeles County currently attend preschool. Furthermore, 73 percent of publicly funded preschool centers in Los Angeles County have waiting lists.
According to the U.S. Census, the number of children who live with relatives other than their birth parents is almost four times as great as the number of children in foster care. While there are many reasons why some children cannot live with their birth parents, many of these children have similar needs to children in foster care but may not have access to the support offered by the foster care system. A unique aspect of
the LAUP initiative is the direct outreach to foster parents and relative caregivers to help them understand how preschool can provide special benefits for these children.
Being better prepared for kindergarten and beyond is critical for children in foster care due to long-term educational implications that affect this at-risk student population. According to studies, it is estimated that 25 percent are placed in special education, as many as 75 percent of foster children in California function below grade level, and 83 percent are held back by third grade.
“Being held back even once between first and eighth grade makes a student more than four times as likely to drop out of school,” said Robertson-Beckley . “It is estimated that about 46 percent of high school dropouts in California are students who live with foster parents, compared to 16 percent of non-foster youth. That is why it is critical for these children to receive a sound educational foundation in their formative years, and high-quality preschools can offer that.”
Research shows that children enrolled in high-quality preschools outscore their non-participating peers on vocabulary tests and tests of early math skills. Upon entering kindergarten, studies show children who attended preschool showed an advantage of eight months in pre-reading skills, six months in early writing skills, and four months in early math skills.
Also, studies indicate that children who attend a high-quality preschool also are:
• More likely to graduate from high school and pursue higher education.
• More likely to be employed.
• More likely to earn a higher income.
• More likely to lead healthy lives.
• Less likely to need public assistance.
• Less likely to be involved in crime.
LAUP preschools are located throughout Los Angeles County, and parents can select from a variety of sites that include public and private centers (including Head Start and state preschool), family child care homes and faith- and school-based preschools.
To enroll your foster or relative care child for free in a high-quality LAUP preschool, you can call toll free (866) 581-5287 or visit www.laup.net.