CEO, Los Angeles Universal Preschool
Universal Preschool is a non-profit organization created in 2004 to provide quality early education to every four-year-old in Los Angeles County whose parents choose to participate. It was conceived and funded through First 5 LA.
Through Universal Preschool, parents will now have services for kids to succeed in kindergarten. They’ll learn how to support academic success. The cost of Universal Preschool depends on the income of the parents. There’s a small investment that parents have to make, but income won’t be an obstacle to having a child placed in these classes.
We offer what’s called a “family care option.” Providers who are giving care will be able to apply for funding. We provide funding to existing providers to expand the number of children in their care while maintaining the ratio between teachers and students. We’re raising the standards. We’ll provide funding for an entire classroom. Providers will get money for 4-year-olds and will be able to hire more teachers so they can serve more children.
Universal Preschool is important for child care centers and child care providers because it gives them access to more children in the community. Many of these providers have limited spaces and a waiting list. With Universal Preschool, providers potentially will deliver services to areas of dire need. The providers have been an integral part of the process and have been excited about the opportunity.
The program launched in March 2005. Providers must apply to become part of the program. We work with Resource and Referral Agencies (R&Rs), but in general providers come right to us. We will conduct a lottery among all the providers that apply.