State offers early childhood grants

2014-08-29T08:00:00Z State offers early childhood grantsBy LEAH TODD Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
August 29, 2014 8:00 am  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — Dianna Webb stepped gingerly between sleeping children Thursday afternoon on the way to her office at Apple Tree Learning Center in Casper.

Soft lullaby music played in the background. Lights were off, the place as quiet as it likely would ever be with dozens of young children present.

Webb, the learning center’s executive director, is one of several local children’s advocates eager to see where a new statewide grant funding pre-kindergarten education might lead.

The grant, written into law by a footnote tacked on to the budget bill in the latest legislative session, makes $665,000 available to communities wanting to develop, enhance or expand opportunities for Wyoming’s youngest learners between now and 2016.

A community can request up to $50,000 to help ensure its children younger than 6 are ready to be successful in school. The grant requires a 25 percent match from the community, which can be a school, county, nonprofit or other agency,

said Becca Steinhoff, executive director of Wyoming Kids

First, the group working

with the Wyoming Depart-

ment of Family Services on gathering applications for the grant.

Language in the grant is intentionally broad to encourage innovation, Steinhoff said.

“The intent, really, of the Legislature was to give communities an opportunity to identify what needs to happen in those earliest environments, experiences and relationships to ensure that children are ready for school,” she said.

The state funding is not meant to step on the toes of private child care providers, mandate preschool for children or enhance any one early childhood care provider.

Webb said she hopes the grant can increase training for families and providers on how to best stimulate early learning in kids and bring more voices to an already active discussion about early childhood education in Casper.

“The prime, optimum time for having the greatest impact on a child’s success in school and later in life is in early childhood, before they start kindergarten,” Webb said.

Two bills outlining a larger version of the grant failed during this year’s legislative session. The same idea was eventually funded through a budget footnote with less money than what was initially proposed, and the funds were directed to the Department of Family Services rather than the state Department of Education.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from the Gazette

Fire destroys Ten Sleep fire station, 5 engines

Fire destroys Ten Sleep fire station, 5 engines

34 minutes ago Related

Related

Loading…
Powder epiphany: A weekend in the Teton backcountry

Powder epiphany: A weekend in the Teton backcountry

3 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Legislators consider the difficult, inane as filing deadline nears

Legislators consider the difficult, inane as filing deadline nears

4 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Drilling ebbs in the Powder River Basin as oil prices plummet

Drilling ebbs in the Powder River Basin as oil prices plummet

9 hours agoLoading…
Firefighter bargaining changes advance to floor

Firefighter bargaining changes advance to floor

19 hours agoLoading…

Wyoming ranks first in financial security

22 hours agoLoading…

BLM finds no problem with parts of planned wind farm

January 31, 2015 2:34 pmLoading…
Oil spill near Glendive latest in string of Casper company's pipeline breaks

Oil spill near Glendive latest in string of Casper company's pipeline breaks

January 31, 2015 6:00 am Photos

Photos

Loading…
Just chill: Your guide to ice fishing

Just chill: Your guide to ice fishing

January 31, 2015 5:00 amLoading…

Public lands transfer legislation advances in Legislature

January 30, 2015 7:00 pmLoading…

Bill would let state invest up to $50M for value-added products

January 30, 2015 4:41 pmLoading…

Report: Wyoming gun death rate among country's highest

January 30, 2015 4:36 pmLoading…

State Senate approves sports concussion liability bill

January 30, 2015 3:08 pmLoading…
Senate postpones Medicaid expansion vote

Senate postpones Medicaid expansion vote

January 30, 2015 1:42 pmLoading…

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses