Privately Funded Preschool


43 states in the U.S. have a statewide pre-school system.
South Dakota is not one of them. We talked with state representative Tom Holmes Friday about his idea for a privately funded pre-k program.

A new, academic study shows kids who come from a low-income family actually get more out of preschool than their wealthier peers. But not all kids are getting an early education.

“Increasingly we’re finding more and more children coming to kindergarten ill prepared. They don’t know their words, their sounds. They don’t know how to interact with peers or teachers. And they come into school one to two years behind and they stay behind,” said Holmes. 

State Representative Tom Holmes says this is a concern for him, as a former teacher of 40 years. He says even with the federally funded Head Start program, it’s not enough.

“There are more applications for Head Start from children than there are spots available because of a lack of federal funding,” said Holmes. 

Last year, there were 1,000 kids who qualified for Head Start but didn’t get into a program because there wasn’t enough money to go around.

The state can’t afford to support a program like this either, so Holmes is now trying to raise money for a privately funded preschool program. He’s already created a 501(c)(3) through the South Dakota Community Foundation.

Once they raise enough funds, Holmes plans to disperse the money to accredited schools so more kids from low-income families can get the education they need to succeed. 

“Children don’t get a chance to choose the parents they’re born to. It used to, years ago, we used to just let kids like that fall through the cracks. We can’t afford to do that anymore. It’s not only an educational issue, it’s a workforce issue and it’s a humanitarian issue, as well,” said Holmes. 

Holmes says states with a preschool program have fewer students in special education classes, fewer kids missing school, and more students graduating with their peers.

To make a donation to the fund, just go to the South Dakota Community Foundation website, OR by check: “South Dakota Community Foundation” Memo line-“SDAEYC Fund”

PO Box 296
Pierre, SD 57501

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