FREE PRESCHOOL: THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR 3- TO 5-YEAR-OLD IS ALSO GOOD FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
ESD 112 has 180 preschool slots available. They’re free to eligible families, and that isn’t even the best part. Children who attend programs like ESD 112’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) are more likely to graduate high school and go onto college, more likely to be employed and earn more as an adult, less likely to be in special education or repeat a grade, and less likely to become pregnant as a teen or be involved in a crime. They’re also healthier when starting kindergarten.
What’s more, is that ECEAP provides referrals to housing, employment and other resources for families. These services have helped families overcome homelessness and find stable employment.
“We have high quality preschool programs that not only support the child but also provide resources for the entire family,” said Jodi Wall, Executive Director of ESD 112 Early Care and Education. “ECEAP literally changes lives, and we want as many people to benefit from the program as possible.”
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to reach parents and families who would benefit from the program. Even with continual recruitment in the community, many families don’t realize they qualify for the program.
“I have temporary custody of my grandchildren, and the 4-year-old qualified for ECEAP,” says one grandmother new to the program. “I would have never known I would qualify if I didn’t work with someone who referred me.”
The free preschool program is open to eligible 3- to 5-year-olds at locations across Clark County in Vancouver, Evergreen, Battle Ground, Washougal and Woodland school districts. Children are accepted into ECEAP based on their age, family income, and other developmental or environmental risk factors. Parents/guardians can call 360-952-3466 to find out if they’re eligible and apply for enrollment. There are 180 grant-funded slots that will disappear if not filled by October.