Wait And See For ECFE

By KBJR News 1

May 18, 2011 Updated May 18, 2011 at 9:24 AM CDT

Virginia, MN (Northland's Newscenter) - As colleges brace for tuition hikes, early childhood and family education agencies are holding their collective breath.

It was a busy, and loud evening at the Parkview Learning Center last week.

"We're having our annual ECFE truck night," said ECFE coordinator Robin Licari.

The event is geared toward families with children from birth to five years old.

This educational activity is just one Licari says is offered to help parents get involved with their child's development.

"If you think about brain development in the first five years of life, your child is growing more than any other time in their life and so the more involved we can get parents, the better the opportunities for the kids," said Licari.

It's something ECFE leaders across the state hope is on the mind of legislators in St Paul, as they look to balance a $5 billion deficit, which could mean cuts.

"So far they've been not wanting to cut any programs in the department of education such as headstart, school readiness, or ECFE, but the programs that relate to childcare are much more vulnerable," said President of Ready 4 K, Todd Otis.

Otis says while not officially part of the education system, these programs are still vital to child development.

"Child care is early learning and so we don't want to cut that because it's related to school readiness," said Otis.

Independent School District 2142 has continually put an emphasis on early child hood education, and makes sure there is adequate funding, even in tough times.

"Because we are a rural district are we're presently made up of seven schools, if we're going to really meet the needs of our young children and families, we have to provide more than what we currently receive from the state," said ISD 2142 Superintendent, Dr. Charles Rick.

Dr. Rick says for years the district has supported early childhood education with general fund dollars.

Last year extra classes were added to accommodate parents, something that could be in jeopardy.

"With the potential cut backs, those funds could be in jeopardy and we may have to cut back on our program offerings to our parents in the district," said Dr. Rick.

The legislature is set to wrap up next week, but with no agreement on the budget at this point, the governor could call a special session.