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Carroll receives $7,000 grant for early childhood learning

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By Kristin Beck

Carroll County is one of 58 Community Early Childhood Councils in 91 counties to receive grant funding to promote school readiness for children.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced Monday $1.2 million in funding as a part of his office’s continuing commitment to improving education and health services for Kentucky’s youngest citizens.

“These grants will help communities give our children the best possible start in school and in life,” Beshear said in a news release. “Every child in the Commonwealth, from the most rural farm to the inner city, deserves the opportunity for a promising life. Local Councils are most qualified to serve the needs of the children in their communities.”

Grants ranged from $5,000 to $50,000 per county. Carroll County received a $7,000 grant.

The early childhood councils are comprised of community volunteers from local school districts, public health departments, childcare providers, Head Start, local libraries, parents and interest groups in many other areas.

Carroll County Schools applied May 17 for the grant on behalf of the Carroll County Early Childhood Council, Public Relations Director Jeff Fremin said. Carroll County Child Development Center Coordinator Pam McNeal was notified they had received the grant on June 28.

“Everything is focused on getting kids ready for kindergarten,” Fremin said.

One goal of the program is to show parents how they can create a quality learning environment in their homes. Sometimes, people do not realize they can use household activities to teach their children, he said. For example, on the next trip to the grocery, have your child identify objects that start with the same letter as his/her name. Parents also can learn about the standards that are a part of kindergarten-readiness.

The Panther Tots program offers learning opportunities for children from birth to five years old that do not qualify for Head Start, Fremin said.

The Early Childhood Council will meet July 10 to discuss the grant and assign agencies to organize and lead a KinderBoost event one Friday per month for four-year-olds not in Head Start who will enter kindergarten the next year, he said. There, an early childhood readiness professional will work with these children on kindergarten readiness skills. Panther Tots also will piggyback on existing events, such as the Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash and Polar Express Christmas event, and include early childhood education information, Fremin said.

According to the budget submitted in the grant application, $3,700 will be spent on supplies and materials, including free books to be given away at the eight STEAM events, parent subscriptions to “Family Fun” magazine, promotions and the KinderBoost events.

Four early childhood instructors will be paid for four hours a day for 10 days to lead a KinderBoost summer program, totaling $2,400. Instructors will conduct two two-hour sessions with five children each in July prior to the children entering kindergarten. Instructors will be trained in Lindamood Bell pre-literacy intervention strategies.

The remaining $900 will be spent on travel expenses for two Early Childhood Council members to attend the annual Early Childhood Conference, usually held in Lexington, Fremin said. This is a required budget item according to the grant.