First 5 Commission to Invest nearly $50 Million in Quality Preschool Services

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — (March 8, 2012) –With the goal to reduce the school readiness gap in San Diego County, the First 5 Commission of San Diego announced on March 5 the award of $47.1 million for three years to the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) to coordinate the First 5 San Diego Quality Preschool Initiative (QPI).

The new initiative, set to begin July 1, will build upon First 5 San Diego’s Preschool for All (PFA) Demonstration Project with expansion into a 12th community – Central San Diego.

“We applaud SDCOE and all the partner school districts,” said Supervisor Bill Horn, Chair of the First 5 Commission of San Diego. “This significant investment in early childhood education is a positive step towards saving taxpayer dollars as it leads to better jobs, stronger communities, and less crime.”

Currently, First 5 San Diego’s PFA program provides high quality preschool at no cost, regardless of family income, in 11 high need communities – Borrego Springs, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, Lemon Grove, Mountain Empire, National City, San Ysidro, South Bay, Valley Center/Pauma, and Vista. Findings from the project’s Five-Year Summative Report, released last September, helped to identify the best practices needed to develop the program service delivery model for QPI.

“QPI enables the SDCOE to build a quality preschool infrastructure in San Diego County in collaboration with 48 services providers throughout the 12 target communities,” said Claudette Inge, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services and Programs Division of SDCOE.

QPI will also support the County’s Live Well, San Diego! 10-year plan to build better health for children and families in the region.

“This initiative provides a variety of opportunities to promote healthy behaviors for children and families and provide early identification of health related issues for young children, both key strategies in preventing chronic disease among our residents,” said Nick Macchione, Director of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency and First 5 Commissioner.

The ultimate goal of the QPI program is to reduce the school readiness gap and improve school achievement in San Diego County by expanding access to high quality preschool. More than 25,000 children are expected to be served over the next three years.

“This investment in high quality preschool is critical to ensure our vision that all children enter Kindergarten ready to learn and achieve,” said Kimberly Medeiros, Executive Director of First 5 San Diego.