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PRE4CLE celebrates anniversary, preschool growth

PRE4CLE is celebrating its fifth anniversary. It also is celebrating the spread of the high-quality preschool programs the nonprofit was formed to promote and help grow.

PRE4CLE, a network of CMSD and private providers, released its annual report Sept. 18. The report shows:

  • Enrollment in high-quality preschool is up 72 percent in Cleveland since PRE4CLE began operation.
  • The number of highly rated preschools has increased 32 percent and now totals 173. PRE4CLE’s goal was to achieve a 20 percent increase by next June.
  • 4,903 children are enrolled in high-quality preschool, representing two-thirds of those who attend preschool.
  • 43 percent of preschool-age children attend high-quality preschool. That is slightly below the goal of 45 percent set for June of this year.

(Find the report here.)

The period from birth to 5 years old is a critical time for brain formation. High-quality preschool can aid development of not only early literacy and math skills, but also skills such as communication and teamwork.

The report shows that as of last fall, 65 percent of students in PRE4CLE sites had reached or were approaching kindergarten readiness and that nearly 50 percent were on track in language and literacy. The numbers were slightly higher for children who regularly attended preschool.

“Every parent wants their child to be successful, and one of the best ways to ensure success is being ready for kindergarten, so that your child is not catching up for his or her whole career,” CMSD Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon said. “Early childhood education is the single best way to make sure your child is ready.”

PRE4CLE helps preschools earn designation as high quality, which it defines as having received three to the maximum five stars on Ohio’s Step Up to Quality rating system.

The nonprofit also markets and advocates for high-quality preschool. Since its founding, PRE4CLE has led efforts that have netted more than $57 million in new state funding for child-care programs in Cuyahoga County.

PRE4CLE’s first five years concentrated on building a solid foundation, Executive Director Katie Kelly said.

“We've reached a great point,” she said. “We still have a long way to go, but we are building that strong foundation.”