Preschools eye upgrades following grant increases

File photo of Saugus Union School District
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With Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Legislature recently approving $50 million in ongoing Proposition 98 funds, California State Preschool Programs are looking to take advantage of a grant that will allow them to upgrade their offerings and increase access for children in the community.

The Cedarcreek and Rio Vista state preschool programs, which are operated by the Saugus Union School District, are both expected to improve their facilities and curriculum following the governing board’s approval of the California State Preschool Program Quality Improvement Block Grant on Tuesday, according to the agenda report. Saugus leaders are also expected to approve a grant increase of $2,000 for the Mountainview Fun For Fours preschool program after it received an updated tier rating of 4.

With Mountainview’s increase from 3 to 4 on the state’s Quality Continuum Framework and the subsequent grant increase from $4,000 to $6,000, more than $18,000 could be headed to Saugus preschool programs, pending the approval of Cedarcreek’s $4,000 grant and the $8,000 awarded to Rio Vista, according to the Saugus Union agenda.

The awarded funds will be distributed through Child360, a nonprofit that seeks to improve the quality of early childhood education programs in Los Angeles County, Child360 spokesperson Rachael Stoffel said. The district’s preschool sites were judged on a set of standards to determine the amount of money they received.

“The higher the rating, the more money a school is eligible to receive,” Stoffel said.

A rating of 4 on California’s QRIS Quality Continuum Framework means preschool sites are doing an effective job of maintaining the emotional and behavioral support of a child, Stoffel said. “The block grant is intended to prepare children for success in school and in life,” by increasing the total number of California State Preschool Programs that rate “4” or higher and to assist those program’s already rated at a “4” or above to retain their rating.

In collaboration with Child360, the three grants are intended to provide technical assistance, coaching, professional development and other incentives that will improve the overall quality of preschool programs at the district’s three sites, according to the agreement between Child 360 and the district. The funds will be used to purchase indoor and outdoor learning materials that support the classroom environment, strengthen teacher-child interactions and raise diversity awareness.

These materials can include books, musical instruments, dramatic play props, science materials, new furniture or technology upgrades, Stoffel said.

“In reality, the money could go towards any equipment that would improve a child’s learning experience,” she added.

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