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$8 million in tobacco settlement funds will go to early childhood education, Governor announces

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood will receive nearly $8 million of Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement funds to promote early childhood education, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday.

The funds will provide developmental screeners for parents of children from birth to 3 years old. The screener is a short, easy-to-use questionnaire that parents can complete to see if their children are meeting developmental and social-emotional milestones, and to help identify potential delays in the critical first years before they start school.

“Building a better Kentucky starts with making sure our children have a strong foundation from the beginning,” said Gov. Beshear. “As a parent, I understand how important it is for every child to have the opportunity to grow and succeed, and these funds help ensure that they have just that.”

Families may access Ages & Stages Questionnaires® through pediatric practices, preschools, health departments, state programs and local agencies as well as through Help Me Grow Kentucky. Some childcare centers also offer this screening tool through Child Care Aware.  nd for more information about having your child screened, contact your Early Childhood Regional Collaborative in your area by emailing ECCouncil@ky.gov.

“We must continue to work to ensure that all children in the Commonwealth are healthy, connected to prevention services and have high-quality childhood experiences from the beginning,” said Education and Labor Cabinet Secretary Jamie Link, “because we know that when children start behind, they often stay behind.”
The funding is in addition to the $1.4 million the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood already receives from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement each fiscal year.

“Children and parents need to be connected to preventive services along with the birth-to-5 pathway well before kindergarten,” said Amy Neal, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood. “We need to reach all children, as early as possible to make a significant positive impact on their development.

“Over the next three years, we are going to work with partners throughout the Commonwealth to expand the use of screeners so we can get children on track early.”

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