New program to provide early education, child care for Wake County 3-year-olds

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A new program from the Wake County Public School System is designed to fill in the gap in child care for kids too young to attend traditional schools, but too old to receive state-funded infant services.

“We believe firmly in having access for all students to a high-quality early childhood education,” said Wake County Board of Education Chairman Keith Sutton.

With the creation of the Wake ThreeSchool program, 4,000 3-year-olds instantly became eligible to spend the day inside the classroom.

“Education is essential,” said Matt Calabria, Chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

The newly established program will start small targeting kids in underserved areas.

“Wake ThreeSchool will allow working parents to establish careers and grow their income without being saddled by the costs that often run into tens of thousands of dollars a year,” Calabria said.

“Families will have access to wrap-around care until they are off work,” said Gayle Headen, Executive Director of Wake County Smart Start.

Once fully staffed, the program could cost the county more than $20 million.

“Children attending Wake ThreeSchool will experience play-based academic prep for 6.5 hours a day,” Headen said.

That’s similar to what is already being done for 4-year-olds across the county. Headen said the results speak for themselves.

“We know our Pre-K strategies work with 91 percent of graduates measuring ready for school using early literacy assessment tools,” Headen said.

The Wake ThreeSchool program is scheduled to begin in fall of 2022.

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