For over 25 years, PreSchool Partners has been preparing underserved families with transformational skills that ensure kindergarten readiness, while also providing parents with the knowledge needed to take an active role in their child’s education. The program was founded on the belief that every child deserves a quality preschool education, whether his/her family can afford to pay for it or not. Every year we serve 196 people, 98 children and 98 parents. At PreSchool Partners, we address three key social problems: affordable childcare for families that need it most and can afford it least, ensuring that the children have the tools needed for school readiness, and the importance of parental involvement for children’s success in school. The mission of PreSchool Partners is to equip families of preschool age children with the skills necessary to achieve school readiness.
PreSchool Partners, a 501c3 organization, was founded at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in 1995 as a response to the need for parental participation and preparation of school-age children from families living in at-risk neighborhoods in Birmingham.
We provide a highly structured learning environment for our two, three, and four year old students every Monday through Friday during the school year, offering activities that teach number, letter, shape, and color recognition, rhyming and beginning sounds, as well as classroom behavior and social skills. We have two highly qualified teachers in every classroom and classes are kept small so that each child receives individualized attention. The children also get to participate in enrichment activities and field trips. PreSchool Partners also provides vital health screenings for its students so that any deficiencies may be detected and treated before the child begins kindergarten, which helps remove barriers to learning. Healthy children are not only happier, they are children who able to learn and thrive.
An aspect of PreSchool Partners that sets it apart from other programs is that we not only educate the children in the program, but their parents or primary caregivers as well. Over the course of a school year, parents in our program receive over 60 hours of instruction on a variety of subjects including age appropriate expectations, nutrition, conscious discipline, and money management. And because we believe this education should be accessible, we offer reduced tuition to parents who attend school one morning every week with their child.
We also offer a family literacy program called “Families Reading Together,” in which parents are given a storybook every week to establish a home library. The parents are trained on how to interest their child in reading and support their reading readiness skills. At home, the parents and child read the book together and complete homework activities. This helps the parents get in the habit of setting aside time to participate in their child’s education.
The benefit of high-quality preschool education is enormous to low-income families, but affordable quality afterschool care is also essential to the working poor. This program provides a secure extended learning environment that complements our high-quality daily curriculum. According to the Center for American Progress, many low-income families cannot afford childcare that allows them to sustain careers, raise incomes considerably, and provide a measure of financial security for the rest of their lives. We recognize the role that income plays in a thriving family structure and wish to provide a resource that will assist with keeping our students safe and their parents employed. With limited options in Birmingham, PreSchool Partners’ afterschool care program is an essential source of support for our working parents.
Research has shown that there are many benefits for classrooms that promote socioeconomic and racial diversity. Benefits include stronger academic outcomes, increased language and vocabulary skills, and a respect for different backgrounds. PreSchool Partners offers a limited number of slots (no more than 30%) to families who are able to pay full tuition. This allows us to provide diverse classrooms. There is a growing demand for diversity in Birmingham, but it can be challenging to find. PreSchool Partners is proud to be providing diverse classrooms and opportunities to bridge communities.