A quality preschool education is ensured when schools meet the standards of a statewide rating system. However, the cost of quality preschool education is often an obstacle for parents who wish to enroll their children.
In Oregon, only two preschools in Clatsop County are rated through the Oregon Quality Rating Improvement System. One is the newly opened Gearhart Kids Academy, a preschool and daycare that opened after a $12,000 renovation.
Owner/director Christy Bisping has no difficulty filling her toddler and infant daycare spaces. However, two weeks into the start of K-12 classes, there are only four students enrolled in her preschool. She believes that price is a problem, along with a lack of information about the importance of preschool.
Local early childhood professionals are working to prepare children for the future, and their efforts are focused on working with parents to overcome the barriers of price and understanding of the importance of early childhood education.
According to Tara Mestrich, Oregon State University Extension Service Family Care Connection program coordinator, the county has approximately 586 potential preschool slots with 35 licensed preschool providers. She concurred that preschool slots are usually plentiful, while demand continues for infant, toddler, and after school child care.