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National Push To Expand Pre-K Makes Its Way To Baltimore

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A national push to get more three and four-year-olds in Pre-K classes makes its way to Baltimore. City leaders unveiled a plan Thursday to pay for it.

Gigi Barnett explains how.

School may be out for summer, but the Head Start classes at Union Baptist Church in Northwest Baltimore just got longer. The city is one of five across the country selected to expand Pre-K with federal funds to the tune of nearly $30 million.

It’s part of a national push to get many of the youngest students into the classroom as soon as possible.

“The best bang for your buck is early childhood education. That’s why getting Head Start right was so important,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

The five-year pilot program means no more half-days.

“This really helps me out a lot,” said Britney Tynes-Bey.

Now the mom of 4-year-old twin girls can focus on getting a full-time job. Before, she was juggling schedules.

“I had to get off and travel back here to come and get them. So you’re only limited without travel time to really two to three hours worth of working, and that’s not enough work at all,” said Tynes-Bey.

The program also comes with a longer school year for three, four and five-year-olds, adding 10 more days to the 160-day schedule.

That’s more time for teachers like Mamie Connor to make sure kids are ready for kindergarten.

“Children that come from a low-income background, not saying that these children do, their vocabulary is much more limited than, say, a child that’s out in the county,” said Connor. “We give them that. We have book reading day. We expand on our book reading.”

The funds will also expand Head Start for nearly 300 babies this fall and offer programs for pregnant mothers.

More than 3,500 children from infancy to 5-years-old attend Head Start in Baltimore.

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