A new report is outlining equity issues and achievement gaps for some of the community's youngest learners. This comes as local groups are pushing for universal pre-K in Forsyth County. 

The report found several factors that limit the availability of high-quality, affordable preschool in the county. Those include a decline in the number of licensed childcare facilities in the past ten years, a lower market rate for childcare providers compared to other urban counties, and economic challenges for families.

According to the study released by Pre-K Priority, Forsyth's population of four-year-olds is rising and becoming more diverse, and educational outcomes are vastly different. 61% of white children entering kindergarten are likely to do well in reading in later grades, compared to 47% of African-American children and 28% of Hispanic children.

Bob Feikema is president of Family Services Forsyth County and on the Pre-K Priority steering committee. He says preschool gives kids the building blocks for success.

"It's not a silver bullet. There are other things that need to be done as well, but the results are in and high quality pre-K can make a difference and make our educational system much more equitable," says Feikema.

The report calls for a local task force and more funding from state and local lawmakers to expand access.

About a third of eligible four-year-olds in Forsyth County are not currently enrolled in a publicly funded pre-K program.   

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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