Children who attend preschool usually do better academically, emotionally and socially than children who don't, according to GreatSchools.org. Preschool children learn how to interact with peers and to listen and follow directions. Children in preschool classrooms also begin learning basic math and literacy skills that will carry through into elementary school. Preschool, however, can be cost-prohibitive for parents. Grants are one solution to this monetary barrier, and can provide the funds needed to pay for a high-quality preschool education.
Definition of Grants
Grants are monetary awards that do not need to be paid back. In other words, grants award funds to parents to send their child to preschool, but they aren't like loans that must be paid back at a later time. Other grants might be awarded directly to preschools, who can then award the funds to parents who meet certain qualifications. Certain grants enable preschools to have the monetary means necessary to purchase educational supplies and to pay high-quality teachers, benefits that are passed on to the students.
Examples of Grants
Head Start is a nationwide grant-type program. Children must be younger than age 6 and parents are eligible based on their income level; families are able to get aid if their income is at or below the federal poverty level. Education for Homeless Children and Youth grants award money to individual preschools who then pass that money on to homeless families so their children can attend preschool. Early Reading First Grants, which are awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, give money to preschools to improve literacy instruction to at-risk preschool-age children, as well as to conduct literacy testing to children whose parents cannot afford to pay for it on their own.
Who Picks Up the Cost
Grants are usually funded by federal or state governments, and parents can apply for any options that they are eligible for. In other cases, preschools award the money to preschool families once they've been awarded the grant at the federal or state level. Privately funded grants are also available, though many of these award the funds to the preschool centers, who can then distribute them based on their own eligibility requirements.
Finding Preschool Grants
Speak with the administration at the preschool where you want your child to go. Ask about grant funds and discuss eligibility requirements to determine if you're able to apply for the money. Seek out government-funded organizations, as well. For example, parents can apply for a Head Start grant with their local Head Start office, of which there are numerous locations throughout the country. If your desired preschool is part of the public school system, speak with the administration to determine how you go about applying for a grant. Internet searches will yield more focused grants such as those awarded to children of a certain ethnicity, religious affiliation or disability.