A coalition of prominent educators, business leaders, philanthropists, children's advocates and representatives from the military, medical and legal fields are joining with state legislators to kick off a new Pre-K expansion initiative with the goal of increasing funding for Pre-K programs.
The program gives every child the opportunity to get an early start to their education.
The bi-partisan show of support for the expansion included leaders like Representative Jay Love (R-Montgomery), Representative Joe Hubbard (D-Montgomery) and Senator Quinton Ross (D-Montgomery) who are committed to doing their part to support a $12.5 million increase in funding for the program.
The Alabama School Readiness Alliance is the organizing agency for the initiative, but they were joined by state education leaders from all over the state.
The expansion is a 10 year plan and while lawmakers say they couldn't commit to what folks in their shoes 10 years down the road will do, and budgets are made on a yearly basis, they do support increasing the funding this upcoming year.
At the meeting, officials talked about the impact a quality Pre-K program has on a child's life, how it sets them up for success not only in kindergarten but throughout their lives and how it cuts down on remedial education and even social and criminal justice services.
They said that investing in the program is about paying for it on the front end and not on the back end.
The state currently gives $19 million in funding to Pre-K programs, so the extra $12.5 million increase would bring that number to $31.5 million. Earlier in the week Governor Robert Bentley gave his support to the program, calling it more important than the Alabama Reading Initiative.
Currently, only about 6 percent of 4-year-olds in Alabama have access to Pre-K programs.
Copyright 2012 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.