Some tuition-free Bend preschool slots remain untapped, despite C.O.’s child care shortage
(Update: Adding video, quotes from managers of program)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Bend preschool taking part in a new state program called the Oregon Preschool Promise says they have open, unfilled child care slots available in Central Oregon for kids and parents, even with an overall lack of child-care programs on the High Desert.
Those involved with Bend Preschool said they have been distributing flyers around the community and at events, to increase awareness of the program and available space for preschoolers.
The general manager of both Bend Preschool locations, Lindsey Weatherbee, said Monday, "Comfortably right now, I know we can have at least 10 to 15 more kids in our program at this facility," in regards to the open spots in the Preschool Promise program.
Even with some slots going begging this semester so far, parent Natalie Vlach says the program has been a huge help for her and her two children.
"My older son was in it first, and we went online, googled it, and there it was. It had so many different options -- and the minute I got Bend Preschool, it gave me the option for Preschool Promise," Vlach said. "It's been amazing. Having both of my kids be able to be in school and learning and developing amazing skills and social skills -- it's been huge."
One of the main issues with the open slots is the lack of parents not knowing the resource is available, and not finding the right website.
"I feel like a lot of people probably search 'Preschool Promise,' and what they should be searching for, the website they are going to go to is growcentraloregonkids.org, so that's a little bit of confusion. They're not finding the right website or going to the right place," Weatherbee said.
Preschool Promise is licensed for up to 49 kids, and currently has 15 spots open. The class runs Monday to Thursday from 8 A.M. to 2 P.M.
The Oregon Preschool Promise program was established to offer tuition-free, high-quality preschool to Oregon families who are living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. It also provides grants and educational programs for those seeking to establish preschools.
Last fall, the state's Early Learning Division said the program hit major delays that left parents in limbo due to staffing shortages that delayed contracts for nearly 250 preschools.