SKOWHEGAN — A new group is raising money to give a boost to programs and enrollment at preschool classes in the local school district.

The group, Skowhegan Community Action for Children, is soliciting donations and volunteers through four Skowhegan churches and the Skowhegan Women’s Club. The initial goal is $10,000, which will allow children on a waiting list to join preschool programs and to enrich the programs already in place, organizers said.

The current program is at capacity and there were 16 children on the waiting list last year, said Nicole Chaplin, manager for child and family services at Kennebec Valley Community Action Program. The program contracts with Skowhegan-based School Administrative District 54 for preschool programming.

The four preschool classes of 64 children, ages 4 and 5, meet at North Elementary School.

The pre-kindergarten program is funded locally in the SAD 54 budget, but also is funded through the federal Head Start program, which has had recent funding cuts, according to Kathy Colfer, KVCAP director of child and family services.

KVCAP has its own staff at the school and the money raised by the Skowhegan group will be used to expand KVCAP preschool staffing, not for public school teachers, Colfer said.

“If you have $10,000 coming into the system you can actually enhance your staffing pattern to serve more children,” Colfer said. “It may mean an assistant teacher or another set of hands in the classroom.”

Brochures are being distributed through the local Methodist church, the Federated church, the Catholic church and the Episcopal church.

“We have a list of what volunteers could do,” said group co-founder Dot Cleaver. “We could supply transportation, we could read to the children, invite speakers to come in and talk to the children — we’re trying to educate the community. It’s the power of working together as a community.”

Cleaver stressed that the money will be administered through KVCAP.

“One of the goals of this committee is to raise money and provide volunteers to enhance services,” Chaplin said. “Money that is put into children before age 5 and up to age 8 reduces money that will have to be put in later for remedial services, Title 1 services and special education services. If you can build that foundation in them when they’re young, they’ll need fewer services later.”

The money will be used to bolster existing programs, including mental health consulting services, providing transportation for families to get to the program, classroom materials and add enrollment for at least two children the first year at the preschool programs at the school.

The committee wants to help preschool children get extra support, said the Rev. Rick Dorian, a committee member and pastor at the Centenary United Methodist Church.

“We’re not fundraising for anything that the district already covers,” he said “This is really to enhance and provide extra support for kids that are on the waiting list.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]

 

 

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