The Peninsula School District plans to expand its half-day Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) Pre-K classes to a full-day schedule for the 2021-22 school year. The expanded ECEAP program, funded by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families will utilize all preschool classroom space at Vaughn and Evergreen Elementary schools, currently shared with the Key Peninsula Cooperative Preschool (KPCP), whose classes will relocate to Grace Church in Home.
“Not only are they getting a preschool program, but they’re getting this larger wraparound service to help them prepare and be ready for school. In that sense, the idea that we are going to be able to expand that resource and have more time with them is a huge win,” said PSD Director of Special Programs Lisa Reaugh, who oversees federal and state programming for early learning and additional support programs. “There’s family support, food services, transportation, all these extra resources that come along with the ECEAP program.”
ECEAP currently serves 10 to 11 preschool students at each school site, plus five students who selected a remote option for 2020-21. Prior to Covid, there were 16 to 18 ECEAP students in each class. Reaugh hopes to see full enrollment again as restrictions ease in the future.
KPCP’s enrollment numbers have also been down over the past year and the ability of parents to volunteer in class has been limited. The co-op program, which has been operating on the KP since 1975, is affiliated with Bates Technical College in Tacoma and designed for both parent and child participation, with caregivers and young children learning and playing together in the classroom.
“The KP co-op is enriched and successful because of the parent involvement. Family members add such a wonderful component to their preschool education — it’s a family program, not just a kid program,” said Kolby Asbra, who taught preschool for KPCP at Grace Church from 2018 until the March 2020 school closures, and had previously taught for ECEAP and KCPC at Vaughn (See “Kolby Asbra —Ultimate Kid Whisperer,” KP News, Oct. 2020).
“My hope for the co-op next year is to have a type of rebirth,” she said. “The co-op has struggled the past couple of years, and I would love to see a beautiful new opportunity for the co-op and everyone involved in this lovely program to thrive.”
Operating all KPCP classes at Grace in 2021-22 will allow more flexibility for parents to assist in the classroom. KPCP plans to offer two-day, three-day and four-day preschool at Grace in the fall, with up to 14 students per class with three adults in the classroom each day — one teacher and two parent helpers.
“This matches the total number of classes we have held in the past using all three of our sites,” said KPCP Acting President and Membership Chair Jessica Wyman. “Our goal is for our quality, family-oriented preschool program to continue as part of this community and we are expanding our program at Grace to accommodate as many of our families as possible. We have enjoyed our relationship with Grace in the past and are grateful we can continue this relationship.”
“We’re hoping to go back to normal but trying to be flexible and see what the guidelines are as we go through the summer. We know things change fast,” said KPCP’s Bates Technical College Representative, Child Studies Instructor Karen Ford, who works with a variety of co-op programs in the region. “The church has been so gracious about our request to expand our program. Some of our co-ops did outdoor preschool, some did hybrid or even just remote, and some didn’t meet all year, so we had quite a variety in what co-ops did this year.”
Grace Church was added as a third KPCP site in 2018 but preschool has not been held there since March 2020. ECEAP and KPCP students returned to Vaughn and Evergreen in October 2020.
“I’ve missed having the kids and parents around. It gets far too quiet here during the day,” said Pastor Ed Longabaugh of Grace Church. “We’re definitely looking forward to having the preschool back this fall. Having all three groups meet here will be a challenge, but we’re eager for the restart.”
“We’ll definitely miss the co-op and I wish we had extra space,” Reaugh said. “Hopefully there will be opportunities down the road to continue our relationship. They’ve been really phenomenal to work with and so supportive and understanding of the change.”
Both KPCP and ECEAP are currently hiring preschool teachers for the 2021-22 school year.
For more information, go to keypeninsulapreschool.org or psd401.net.
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