Denver preschool program good for kids and parents’ budgets

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DENVER -- A new study out Thursday highlights the value of a preschool education, but parents know finding the right school can be difficult and expensive.

There are some options making it more affordable for parents. Jennifer Rice is a mother of two living in Denver who chose the private school route partly to avoid any chance of a waiting list. “We had to arrange our family budget so we can allocate money each month in order to pay for preschool.”

Aside from expenses, it can be stressful finding the perfect school for your child.

Heather Wilson is a mother of three young children, one is in kindergarten, another heading to preschool. The process has her asking herself all kinds of questions. “Is your kid going to be happy? Is the teacher going to be good? Are you going to fit in with the community of learners there?”

But a new study shows it could be worth the stress.

Third graders who participated in the Denver Preschool Program four years earlier perform better than those who didn't go to preschool.

Dan Schaller is a representative with DPP. “We have, for the first time, research all the way to third grade showing that kids that attend preschool are doing better than kids that do not.”

The Denver Preschool Program helps provide early education for about 70 percent of all 4-year-olds throughout the city of Denver.

Schaller says families receive help based on income, and the program they choose to attend. "I would say the average per month, per family, is in the $200 range." That’s helpful considering the average cost per month is almost $1,000.

A spot in a program can also be hard to come by, especially as the school year approaches. "It is a little bit tough to be honest, in terms of finding those options.”

Schaller says one of the issues is parents put too much emphasis on location, and not the quality of programs. DPP has more than 250 programs available, even private schools are included, with all the useful information right at your fingertips online at www.dpp.org.