Luthercare for Kids continues to find new ways to grow, evolve and partner with community organizations.
This fall, Luthercare for Kids – Reamstown announced a collaboration with Cocalico School District to operate a new classroom within Reamstown Elementary School. The agreement with the district enables Luthercare for Kids to operate a state-funded preschool class to financially eligible 3- and 4-year-old children. The class of 20 students includes 15 spots funded by a Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts grant, which enables children from low-income families to begin their education a year or two before kindergarten begins. Full-day instruction will be provided, and the program is expected to open as soon as the site is inspected by the state Department of Human Services.
Before- and after-school care for the Pre-K Counts class will be available at the elementary school. The Luthercare for Kids – Reamstown Early Learning Center, which is located across the street from Reamstown Elementary School, continues to offer early learning child care services for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, as well as before- and after-school care for school-age children at the center.
“We are pleased to be able to partner with Cocalico School District to bring these important services to Reamstown Elementary, and we look forward to the positive impact this wonderful collaboration will have for the children and families of the community,” said Lorita Valente, Luthercare’s Executive Director of Community Programs.
Cocalico School District takes providing support for every child very seriously, and that begins before they even enter kindergarten.
“Free preschool at every one of our schools would be a dream come true,” said Cocalico School District Superinterdent Dr. Ella Musser, noting that the district is working with another preschool agency to bring similar programs to its other elementary schools.
Cocalico, like all school districts in Lancaster and Lebanon counties, identified eight early literacy and numeracy skills that children should know upon entering kindergarten that play an important role in a child’s success in school. These skills include; recognizing and naming 8-12 uppercase letters and 8-12 lowercase letters; writing their own name with most letters correct; counting to 20; and naming squares, circles, triangles and rectangles. These skills are aligned with Pennsylvania’s Early Learning Standards – Pre-Kindergarten, the PA Core Standards – Pre-Kindergarten, and the Success by Six Kindergarten Readiness Checklist.
The percentage of Cocalico School District’s incoming kindergarten students who were able to meet all eight of the benchmarks in 2018 was 19% and in 2019 was 10%. Most students who fail to reach the “kindergarten readiness” criteria are experiencing risk factors, such as limited financial resources, delays in physical or mental development, and/or a primary language other than English. Providing free preschool for at-risk children promotes language, literacy and numeracy skill development, and lessens the likelihood that a child would need intensive remediation and support in kindergarten.
Previously, the school district itself had provided a Pre-K Counts program, but it was able to provide only half-day services for 30 children.
“We are so pleased that we are able to offer more support to children in our district. We’re very excited because this provided, in the end, not just a replacement for a class that was going to close, but a way to actually expand it,” Musser said.