Public dollars for private preschool?
FARGO How do area private preschool providers feel about public schools possibly expanding early childhood education, an area now covered by many child care centers? On one hand, those in the private sector are delighted that more attention is be...
How do area private preschool providers feel about public schools possibly expanding early childhood education, an area now covered by many child care centers?
On one hand, those in the private sector are delighted that more attention is being given to what they say is a crucial time in the development of a child.
But they also wonder why resources can't be directed to existing private programs that offer families the convenience of child care and pre-kindergarten programming in one location.
"We've always felt like we deserve the funding the public schools get, because it is so critical that kids receive quality child care from a very young age," said Jane Greminger, program director for Nokomis Child Care Center in Fargo.
"We have quality teachers who don't get paid what they deserve," Greminger said, adding that she wasn't aware public school officials in North Dakota plan to ask lawmakers for greater preschool education funding.
"I know they have space issues the way it is," she said, referring to public schools.
If more public dollars get earmarked for early education, private child care centers want to be part of the picture, said Linda Lembke, director of Lakes and Prairies Child Care Resource and Referral in Moorhead. The agency works in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Lembke said an option discussed in the past envisioned forming community boards or committees that would include private child care and preschool programs when deciding how funding is used.
"I think child care programs really want to see that as part of the discussion," Lembke said.
She said private preschool providers would like to do more for kids, but staffing and space costs can be limiting.
Greminger echoed Lembke's sentiments.
"We pride ourselves on quality. I would hope there would one day be funding for private day cares as well," Greminger said.
Lembke questioned whether it makes sense to expand early education in public schools for 3- and 4-year-olds when families that use day care already face transportation and time challenges.
Steering public support to existing preschool programs might make more sense, Greminger said.
"We're already here," she said.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.