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Grant aims to get kids school-ready

A $4,000 grant will help area preschoolers and child care teachers continue toward the goal of United Way of Allen County Women United: to have all children be kindergarten-ready and succeed in school, officials said.

The grant from the Women United advocacy committee will go to Paths to Quality child care providers and has been established to help providers move up on the state’s child care quality rating and improvement system.

Providers may apply for up to $4,000 in assistance for educational materials for their programs or for assistance with certifications for their teachers.

“Women United is excited to assist child care providers in Allen County move up a level in the Paths to Quality program,” Women United President Irene Walters said. “By helping these providers today, we are able to better prepare Allen County children to succeed in school and in life tomorrow.”

Paths to Quality rankings include four levels – from Level 1, meeting basic health and safety standards, to Level 4, achieving national accreditation. Programs eligible for the rankings include licensed child care centers, licensed family child care homes and unlicensed registered ministries who have met voluntary certification standards.

Applications for funding, due by Oct. 3, will be reviewed by Early Childhood Alliance for compliance with the Paths to Quality program, and the recipients will be selected by mid-October. The grants could be awarded in $1,000 increments to four recipients, or the total amount could go to one recipient, said Tracie Ortman, spokeswoman for United Way of Allen County.

The grant has the potential to add to the number of providers in Allen County who are able to participate in the Preschool Pilot program that Allen County was selected for at the end of July, Ortman said.

The pilot program is set to begin in January, with vouchers being distributed to families who fall at or below 127 percent of the federal poverty level.

These vouchers can be used at any qualifying Level 3 or 4 Paths to Quality child care provider, Ortman said.

Kindergarten Countdown, held in July, is a different program with similar goals.

The United Way program is a four-week session for students entering kindergarten this year, Ortman said.

“These students have had little or no previous preschool experience and need extra time to get used to their classrooms and how to function in those settings,” she said.

Formed in 2005, Women United is a collaboration of women whose goal is to significantly improve the quality of life for the children in Allen County by ensuring their readiness for kindergarten.

More info

• To apply for grant funding, email Mary Huth at Mary. or fill out an application online at

• For more information about Paths to Quality, go to

• For more information about Women United, go to