Preschool access expands with grants across southwest Virginia

More students will be able to attend preschool

Craig County Child Care Center is getting $250,000 grant.
Craig County Child Care Center is getting $250,000 grant.

CRAIG CO – There are waiting lists all over Virginia for preschools.  The Commonwealth is trying to help expand access with grants for two of our local areas.

"Preschool is a stepping stone for kindergarten in school," said Teresa Oliver, the Craig County Child Care Center executive director.  "Academically these children will go to kindergarten generally knowing the letters of the alphabet, knowing the sounds of the alphabet, being able to write their name, just being familiar with those kinds of concepts."

Oliver says most families have to leave Craig County to work, so there's a big need.

"This grant will help make it affordable for parents and families of lower incomes or single parent families," said Oliver.

A $250,000 grant from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and Department of Education means 17 more children can go to preschool.

"I am a firm believer in the more children and families that we can touch it will make communities a better community and society," said Selena Childress-Mayo, the TAP Headstart Director who is helping with the grant.

TAP is partnering with multiple agencies including the schools and Department of Social Services to help more children.  The money will be spent on upgrading the facility and getting staff more training.

"When the staff further their education it then trickles down to the children," said Childress-Mayo.

"Children that go to preschool, it's proven that they have higher incomes, they own their own homes, they have better jobs, they make a better income so this is going to grow our entire community not just this one child with this one family," said Oliver.

Smart Beginnings of Southwest Virginia also got a grant and will work with children in several counties including Carroll County.  More than 80 children will benefit in that area. Liddle Adventures, Liddle Tikes, and Little Treasures will be part of the program.