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MountainStar Nursery to open preschool program


MountainStar Family Relief Nursery announced Thursday that a grant from the Central Oregon Health Council will allow the nonprofit to open a preschool program at its Bend site starting in February.

MountainStar provides at-risk children ages birth to three years with a wide range of support services designed to strengthen families, as well as prevent child abuse and neglect.

The three-year COHC grant will allow MountainStar to fulfill its long-term goal of offering preschool programming, which provides continuity of services for children who have graduated from MountainStar’s services but are too young to enter kindergarten.

As MountainStar Executive Director Tim Rusk explains, “The first 1,000 days of brain development are critical and that is what MountainStar’s services have focused on since we opened our doors in 2001. We are so excited to offer this extension of services to our families and are extremely grateful to COHC for supporting our vision in such a significant way.”

The preschool will also allow MountainStar to fully utilize the classroom space at its Bend facility; space that sits open in the afternoons when staff is conducting in-home visits with clients.

MountainStar, which also operates sites in Madras, Prineville and La Pine, is launching the preschool program at its Bend site as that is where the majority of its clients are located. Students will attend two days a week for three hours a day, for a total of six hours of instruction.

The pre-school program will add 22 classroom spots for children and will follow the Relief Nursery Therapeutic Model. By combining the therapeutic classroom curriculum with pre-school skills, the new program will support COHC’s Kindergarten Readiness Project.

According to Donna Mills, COHC’s Executive Director, “Early learning success is critical to children’s development and a nurturing environment plays a big role in achieving that success. The 3 to 1 student/teacher ratio at MountainStar’s preschool will be ideal for children who need more focused instruction as they prepare for kindergarten and beyond, and we are so pleased to help them by supporting this essential program.”

MountainStar’s preschool staff is currently being hired and trained, and the organization plans to open the preschool program in February. The program is open to children ages three and four, and is free of charge to qualifying families. For enrollment information, please contact MountainStar’s Safety Net Specialist, Nydia Acosta, at 541-322-6820 or

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