Column: Cincinnati needs a cause and quality preschool for every child must be it

My wife Sarah and I have been blessed with two amazing children, both of whom attend quality preschool.  We can afford it, but most families can’t.

And like most families in our city, we believe EVERY child, not just ours, should have access to quality preschool.   

The story by Bob Driehaus that WCPO published Friday confirmed the unavoidable and urgent dilemma we face in Cincinnati: Public and private funding for preschool has remained flat for years while the need for preschool is growing, and growing fast.

We now live in a city with the second highest child poverty rate in the country, and for the first time in our city’s history, more children are born into poverty than not.

Families are finding it harder and harder to pay for basic childcare, let alone the type of quality preschool that we know can break the cruel and unforgiving bonds of poverty.

The answer is not a new program, but a cause – one that will transform the lives of thousands of children and their families.   

Congress maintaining the current rate of Head Start funding, when that existing support covers only half of eligible children, provides for no such cause.

This cause must start with parents, and for the thousands of parents who cannot afford quality preschool, it must include all of us.

If we want to change the course of history in Cincinnati, ensure that every child shows up to school with the skills and knowledge to succeed, leading to better schools, more jobs, new talent, and a growing, more diverse middle class, we must pursue the Cincinnati Preschool Promise.

This new effort builds on what we know works – investing in two years of quality preschool – but this time, for all children of parents who want such experiences for their kids.

After Head Start funding, state childcare vouchers, and a very generous philanthropic investment every year, thousands of our children are still left out.

The Preschool Promise will leverage these existing investments, and provides the new support needed to make the dream of quality preschool for every child a reality.  In this city.  

Beyond unlocking the potential of thousands of children, University of Cincinnati economists predict that this investment will produce $50 million to $70 million a year in new public benefits and savings.  

Before bed each night, Sarah and I say a prayer with our kids – that we must not just be mindful of those less fortunate, but that we have the courage to act on their behalf.

Learn more about the Preschool Promise and join the cause today

Greg Landsman is executive director of the Strive Partnership, a Cincinnati education advocacy organization. 

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