Last year at this time, 80 families had sent in applications to Imagine Preschool on East Avenue in hopes of gaining one of 18 free all-day pre-kindergarten slots.
As of last Thursday, Simmy Carter, director at the school, said she had only received 12 applications and was concerned that some of the slots funded through a state program would go unfilled. The children are selected by lottery.
Carter doesn’t believe there are any fewer families eligible for the program or that the need is being filled elsewhere. She thinks the word hasn’t gotten out and that with a deadline of this Friday, many won’t learn of the opportunity until it’s too late.
Under the program, there are spaces for 144 children at eight classes in Central Falls, Providence, Warwick, West Warwick and Woonsocket. In addition to Imagine Preschool, 18 slots are available at Westbay Children’s Center on Astral Street.
The program, entering its fourth year, provides free high-quality pre-kindergarten classes to eligible children. The R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) oversees the program.
To be eligible, children must be 4 years old by Sept. 1 and they must be residents of one of the identified communities.
Applications for the program are available on the RIDE website (www.ride.ri.gov/OSCAS/earlychild/) and at the program sites.
Elliott Krieger, spokesman for the Department of Education, said Friday that many families had been notified through the Warwick school automatic phone system.
There was some question as to when those calls were made, which could be an explanation for the lack of applications.
Krieger said the deadline could be extended but the department would prefer not to do that. He said the deadline for some communities had been extended in the past.
The program has been expended this year to include Central Falls schools, Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association and West Warwick that is serviced by Child, Inc. at 28 Payan St.