A campaign is underway in Forsyth County to get more four-year-olds enrolled in pre-K programs. It includes a new online resource to help families with the application process.

According to data from the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education, enrollment in early education programs declined in the state during the pandemic. A nonprofit known as The Pre-K Priority launched a new initiative to boost those numbers in Forsyth County.

The Pre-K Priority is a coalition of community organizations and individuals that aim to improve the number of affordable, high quality pre-K programs in the community.

This month, more than 10,000 families with young children will receive postcards encouraging them to consider registering for pre-K and inviting them to visit a new website to navigate options.

Education experts say that having one year of early formal learning opportunities will help prepare a child mentally, physically and socially for kindergarten.

Katura Jackson is executive director of the Child Care Resource Center in Winston-Salem. She says the online tool is designed to be a one-stop-shop for pre-K applications and other services.

“As we were talking with families in the community, many families didn't know where to start their search for pre-K or child care," says Jackson. "And so this gives them an option and a place to start to access community resources.”

Pre-K enrollment is open to children who turn four years old on or before August 31.

Jackson says now is the time to apply for fall enrollment. The application process for publicly funded pre-K programs including Head Start and the local school system — as well as for private programs — is currently underway.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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