YAKIMA, Wash. — Full-day preschool classes will continue to expand for Yakima County families and their children this fall.
Continuing an expansion of the state’s preschool system, the Department of Early Learning announced recently that 1,350 new or converted preschool slots will be added — capable of serving more than 10,000 children ages 3 to 4.
Locally, that means 26 classes with Jane’s House Child Development Center in Yakima, and Heritage University will be converted from half-day to full-day programs. Eighteen new classes, meanwhile, will open through Catholic Family and Child Services.
Educational Service District 105 assists Jane’s House and Heritage early childhood programs. While all 16 slots at Jane’s House will convert to full-day programs, only 10 of 15 at Heritage will make the conversion.
The changes are part of a bill the Legislature passed in 2010 to provide preschool and family support services to eligible young children and their families. Children qualify for the services if they are in families at or below 110 percent of the federal poverty level, or an annual income of $25,905 for a family of four. The goal of the state is enrolling every qualifying child by the 2018-19 school year.
“We want to make sure that kids have high-quality preschool opportunities to get them ready for school success,” said Early Learning spokeswoman Amy Blondin.
A recent state forecast reported that almost 23,000 slots would be required to fulfill the full implementation goal by 2018. By the end of the 2014-15 school year, Blondin said there will be more than 10,000 in place. Yakima County had a total of 563 preschool slots as of the end of the 2013-14 school year.