By: Carrie Bale—
Muncie, IN—There is a quote from Helen Keller in which she says,“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much more.” This premise is the foundation of how BY5 has functioned for the previous four years as we work to engage everyone in the community to find a way to make a positive impact for the future of Muncie & Delaware County. BY5 is working on a community driven strategic plan developed by nearly 100 community members to help ensure that all children in Delaware County are ready for Kindergarten and set for life! The focus has been on 25 strategies that fall into either healthy children, supporting families, increasing access to high quality early childhood environments and finally supportive communities. One strategy that has proven to be very beneficial is increasing access to high quality preschool and working through crucial partnerships has been the key to success for the increase in high quality programs and spots for young children throughout Delaware County.
Muncie Community Schools began the journey in the fall of 2016 to create preschool classrooms in some of their buildings. Muncie Community Schools understands that for their students to be successful, connecting with them before they come to kindergarten is paramount to their future academic and workforce potential. Funding was secured from Early Learning Indiana to help outfit new classrooms, and a small community task force helped with pre-planning for the start of the classrooms. Under the direction of Erin Donovan with the Ivy Tech School of Education, a group of students planned and ordered classroom supplies. Children were welcomed into the preschool classrooms within Muncie Community Schools in January of 2017. The next step was to be sure that the preschool classrooms within Muncie Community Schools were of the highest quality, and in Indiana the indicators of high quality are programs that obtain Level 3 or Level 4 on Paths to QUALITY, which is determined through a rigorous rating process.
With the amount of transition that Muncie Community Schools has undergone in the past two years, BY5 knew we needed to help provide comprehensive wrap around support for the Preschool Coordinator, Sarah Price, and her preschool teachers in the classrooms in order to move them through the process of being rated high quality.
BY5 submitted a grant to the George & Frances Ball Foundation in November 2017, and was funded to coordinate the “MCS High Quality Preschool Project” with the goal of having 3 sites meeting Paths to QUALITY Level 3 by May 2018 and the 4th site at South View Elementary to meet Paths to QUALITY Level 3 by December 2018. A team was created including BY5, Muncie Community Schools, Path to Quality Coach through Early Learning Indiana, and local expertise coming from Huffer Child Care Resource and Referral Staff.
Sarah Price, Preschool Coordinator for Muncie Community Schools said, “The numerous community partner’s collaborative approach has been instrumental in setting and meeting our goal of high quality preschool programming within Muncie Community Schools.” An aggressive timeline was created and agreed upon and the team got to work right way, meeting every couple of weeks to touch base. Liane Nickey, Director of Huffer Child Care Resource & Referral says “The partnership between Huffer Child Care Resource and Referral, BY5 and the Muncie Schools been has been mutually beneficial to achieve results that we were more likely to achieve together than alone. I am so excited that three of the schools will have Level 3 Paths to QUALITY classrooms. This was a seamless process due to the intensive technical assistance provided by Everett Hicks, Paths to QUALITY Advancement Coach and Elizabeth Flynn, Early Learning Specialist. The collaborative partnership has provided Delaware County Families with more high quality Pre-K choices.”
BY5 is so excited about the additional options for high quality preschool this will provide to families in Muncie and Delaware County. Families can contact Sarah Price at 765-747-5448 or email her at – firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the preschool options within Muncie Community Schools. Families are also encouraged to see if they are eligible for grants for “On My Way Pre-K” at www.onmywayprek.org. A child must be 4 by August 1, 2018 and a family needs to meet income guidelines and have a job with a minimum of about 5 hours a week or be enrolled in an accredited class or program.
Delaware County has only about 40 “On My Way Prek” spots left to fill and 20 High Quality Programs to choose from. Questions about On My Way Prek program and eligibility requirements please call or text Toni Bond, On My Way Pre-K manager at 765-620-4510. BY5 is honored to be a conveyor of this impactful project and grateful for the support from George & Frances Ball Foundation and the many other partners mentioned above who made this possible.