Governor orders cuts as preschool waitlist soars
The number of poor children on the waitlist for preschool in Washington has tripled over the past three years. And now the problem may get worse. Governor Chris Gregoire’s across-the-board budget reductions threaten to cut more than 100 kids who are already enrolled.
Today, more than 4,000 three and four-year-olds in Washington are waiting for a subsidized preschool slot. Gloria Fortune’s son, who has autism and epilepsy, is one of the lucky ones. He’s currently enrolled in a preschool program. But Fortune worries what would happen if he loses his slot due to state budget cuts.
Fortune says the preschool has been a lifesaver. For example, one way the school’s teachers got her son to settle down is they put a weighted vest on him.
“He immediately was able to sit down, study with his classmates. When we talk about things that I don’t have available at home. It’s very expensive to get a weighted vest. I cannot afford one. A day in the life with him would be really hard without having these entities in our lives,” says Gloria Fortune.
Early learning advocates, including leaders in law enforcement, are urging the governor and lawmakers to protect funding for preschool. They say these programs get high-risk kids ready for school and can prevent drop-outs and crime later on.