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Bethel Park families offered preschool aid

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Some middle-class families in the Bethel Park School District who are struggling to afford preschool are receiving help from a state grant.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education awarded a $176,550 Pre-K Counts grant to the district to help it fund preschool for 30 children at Tender Care Learning Center in Bethel Park.

District spokeswoman Vicki Flotta said there are 15 spots for full-day and 15 for half-day instruction. The money will cover the cost of preschool for families.

Dorothy Stark, elementary education director at Bethel Park, said the state is expanding Pre-K Counts to districts that usually wouldn't be eligible. “We really do not have subsidized preschool in Bethel Park,” Stark said.

Many other subsidized preschool programs target families near the poverty line.

Pre-K Counts grants are available for 3- and 4-year-old children whose families earn less than 300 percent of poverty income guidelines. For a family of four, that means an annual income of not more than $70,650.

Half-day students will attend preschool from 9 a.m. until noon, and full-day students go from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Susan Albert, senior director at Tender Care, said the preschool focuses on introductions to math, reading and science. Students also are introduced to socialization skills needed for school, as well as motor skills such as using a pencil or scissors.

“I think it's a very good thing for the community,” she said.

The preschool program begins on Sept. 16 at Tender Care on Library Road.

Eric Eisert is a freelance writer.

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