SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — Springfield’s youngest students are now getting get help to start their education out free of charge.
22News was there Monday morning as city and state leaders toured Springfield’s Early Childhood Center and announced that a $60 million federal grant was awarded to Massachusetts. Springfield is one of five communities getting the benefits of that grant.
The grant money will pay for nearly 200 children in Springfield to attend a full day preschool program free for the entire school year.
Tom Weber, the state’s Commissioner of Early Education and Care, told 22news paying for preschool is one of the biggest challenges the families face with early education.
“A full year of preschool is roughly 12-thousand dollars a year per child and so for a single mom that can represent roughly 45 percent of her income,” Weber said.
Daniel Warwick, Springfield’s Superintendent of Public Schools, told 22News the grant will also include data recording to track the impact high quality preschool has on students’ education long term.
“So if we can ensure that we can prove that kids who get a high quality preschool experience actually do well in school, do better on that third grade test, actually graduate college and are career ready,” Warwick said.
Joan Kagan, President of Square One, one of the three community programs partnered with the public school system to run these preschool classrooms, says family involvement is also a key component.
“We all have outreach workers that will be doing outreach to families and family engagement is a critical part of this grant,” Kagan told 22News.
The grant give 15 million dollars to Springfield, Holyoke, Boston, Lawrence, and Lowell, each year for four years. Springfield’s portion of that comes out to more than $3.5 million each year.