COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The state and city of Columbus are teaming up to expand early learning programs in Columbus.
“The State of Ohio is helping us to extend Early Start Columbus to more of our children,” Mayor Michael Coleman said. “We cannot reach our goal of universal access to quality early childhood education alone. I thank Gov. Kasich for being the first partner to invest in our effort.”
The partnership means 160 additional low-income four-year-olds will be able to attend full-day pre-K classes. This increases the number of children in the program to 500.
"85 percent of a child's brain development takes place by the age of 5, so education must start early," Coleman said.
Coleman has submitted legislation to Columbus City Council to allocate $700,000 toward this expansion on top of the $3.4 million that was invested last month in the first phase of Early Start. The State of Ohio’s pre-K expansion program includes almost $2.2 million for quality early childhood education for children within the Columbus City Schools district boundaries.
"Maybe we can't get it all done tomorrow or the next day, but every single kid that we help - we're handing them their future," said Gov. John Kasich.
The Ohio Department of Education is funding half days of pre-K education throughout the state.
“Getting off to a strong start before kindergarten is vital, especially among our most at-risk students, and this new partnership of state and local funds will help our youngest learners grow and stay on track,” Kasich said.
Experts say that young children exposed to high-quality education settings exhibit better language and mathematics skills, better social skills and better relationships with peers in their classroom.
Both Coleman and Kasich addressed the need for a bi-partisan approach to solve the issue of early childhood education.
"Kids don't care what party you belong to. Kids don't care if you are a 'D' or an 'R,'" said Coleman.
Coleman also expressed support for the early childhood education plan put forward by Kasich's opponent for governor, Ed FitzGerald.
Those interested in enrolling a 4-year-old in Early Start Columbus should contact Action for Children at 224-0222 or through its website, www.actionforchildren.org.