Gov. Jay Nixon today announced a $1 million investment through Missouri Start Smart to expand access to quality early childhood education opportunities in Chariton County so that more Missouri children start kindergarten ready to succeed in school and beyond.
“Early childhood education is a smart investment with a big return, and that’s why my administration has worked to make preschool more affordable and accessible for Missouri families,” Gov. Nixon said. “These new early childhood education classrooms here in Salisbury will create more opportunities for more families to enroll their children in a quality early learning program so that their kids are ready for kindergarten on Day One.”
The Governor announced that, through the Missouri Start Smart initiative, the Missouri Department of Economic Development will authorize a $1 million Community Development Block Grant to the City of Salisbury on behalf of the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency to expand and improve its early childhood education program. The MVCAA will use these funds to construct a new Head Start facility in Salisbury, increasing the available Head Start slots in the community to 35 from 17.
“The MVCAA is grateful to the Governor for his unwavering support for the care and education of Missouri’s youngest citizens,” said Cindy Gabbert, MVCAA Head Start Director. “This grant to Salisbury and the agency will enable us to provide Head Start preschool and infant/toddler care and education, along with community childcare, in a safe, high-quality learning environment. The benefits go beyond the children in care and their families, helping build a brighter future for the entire community.”
Gov. Nixon has made public education in Missouri a top priority of his administration. Even during the height of the recession, Gov. Nixon worked across the aisle to balance the budget every year without raising taxes or making cuts to K-12 classrooms.
As the first official business of his second term, Gov. Nixon met with early childhood education officials, educators and advocates about the importance of improving and expanding access to quality early learning opportunities, and to develop a plan to find additional early childhood education dollars.
In addition to funding through the Missouri Preschool Program, in 2014, the Governor launched Missouri Start Smart to support the development, expansion or improvement of high-quality early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs throughout the state. To date, $23.1 million in Missouri Start Smart grants have been awarded for 24 projects across the state, which will serve up to 2,325 pre-school age children.
Most recently, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget signed by the Governor includes his recommendation to fund early childhood education through Missouri’s school foundation formula, which will provide more than 2,500 kids access to high quality pre-school.