Pre-K is coming: Tuesday’s town hall offers families tips on early child care in Santa Cruz County

Olivia Bogart organizes Play-Doh in a TK/kindergarten combination class at Westlake Elementary School.
Olivia Bogart organizes Play-Doh in a TK/kindergarten combination class at Westlake Elementary School.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The state’s expanding transitional kindergarten program, set to start this fall in public schools, is just one of many options families can choose from for early child care. So what should parents choose? Several local organizations are hosting a town hall on Tuesday for families with 3- and 4-year-old children to help them get the information they need to find the best fit for their kids. 

Navigating the maze of options for early child care is no easy feat.

While no one can make that decision for families, local organizations who want to help by informing families of the available options are hosting a virtual town hall on Tuesday.

First 5 Santa Cruz County is hosting “PreKindergarten for Kids: a Town Hall for Families” on Tuesday, from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. on Zoom. First 5 Santa Cruz County is a local commission authorized to allocate Proposition 10 funds — paid for by a 50-cent tax per pack on cigarettes and tobacco products — to early childhood education and care programs. It also offers direct services such as reading programs and educator training.

One big change county officials and organizations want families to know about is the expansion of the state’s universal transitional kindergarten program. For the 2022-23 school year, children who will be turning 5 between Sept. 2, 2022, and Feb. 2, 2023, will be eligible for transitional kindergarten for the 2022-23 school year.

By the 2025-26 school year, transitional kindergarten will become available to all 4-year-olds. Families will now have that option for younger children or they could send them to a preschool, a combination of preschool and TK, or choose to keep children home.

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, the Child Development Resource Center, and CORE Investments Santa Cruz County co-host the town hall, which will be free and held in English. The event will also have simultaneous interpretation in Spanish

The organizations will help families make these important decisions by providing information and resources about early care and education for their children in the two years before they enter kindergarten.

To register for the virtual event, click here: https://bit.ly/PreK4Kids-May31