Helping Central Texas 4-Year-Olds Prepare for School

AARO Admin AARO News, Education News

For the 2nd year, AARO is partnering with school districts, health clinics, community providers and E3 Alliance to spread the word about free public school Pre-K for eligible students.*  On June 12th, AARO hosted a luncheon to discuss this key regional initiative featuring remarks by Austin Mayor Steve Adler and a special performance by Texas State Musician Sara Hickman.

Research by E3 Alliance shows that only half of all Central Texas students are Kindergarten-ready when they enter school.  Every year in Central Texas, over 2,000 low-income 4-year-olds are eligible for FREE public school Pre-K, but they don’t enroll in any public or private pre-school program.

Attendance in a high quality Pre-K program is important for school readiness and is highly correlated with reading at grade level, high school graduation, and even income level.  If we can enroll these 2,000+ low-income, eligible 4-year-olds in high quality Pre-K, they’ll be more likely to be ready for Kindergarten.  Plus, our region could see a $30 M return-on-investment over the students’ lifetimes, per annual cohort of students.  It’s truly a win-win.

If you know or work with families of likely-eligible 4-year-olds, encourage them to ask their school district if they qualify.

* To qualify for free Pre-K, the child must be at least 4 years old by September 1st of the school year and meet ANY of the following criteria:
–  Child is from a low income household
–  Child is unable to speak English well
–  Child is homeless or has been in foster care
–  Child’s parent is a member of the U.S. armed forces
Children with no documentation of U.S. citizenship are accepted!

Group Photo Courtesy of Ms. Sara Hickman
Pictured (left to right): Mr. Miguel Romano, Senior Business Development Officer; Mr. Mark Mayfield, President/CEO – Texas Housing Foundation; Mayor Steve Adler – City of Austin; Ms. Tamara Atkinson, Deputy Executive Director – Workforce Solutions – Capital Area Workforce Board.
Front: Ms. Marina Bhargava, Executive Director – Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce and Ms. Sara Hickman – Texas State Musician.