Advocates for pre-K in Arkansas are still pushing for a cost of living increase despite the announcement of nearly $15 million in new federal funds over four years for the state’s program.
Arkansas Better Chance serves about 24,000 kids statewide. Jerri Derlikowski with Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families says the federal funding will add over 2,000 new children to ABC, but won’t fill funding gaps needed for existing participants
"It's to serve new students, both in areas of the state that haven't had services available and areas of the state where there are waiting lists and other needs. So, it won't address the cost of living increase we need for children in the Arkansas Better Chance program,” she said.
According to Derlikowski, the state has been trying to obtain federal funds for an expansion of quality programs to new areas of the state for several years now, but there is still a cost of living increase need for the existing program.
She said her group will advocate for an additional $16 million in funding during the coming legislative session for a cost of living increase for pre-K statewide. The state's ABC program has not received any increases since 2008.
*This article has been update to include the duration of the grant.