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The Welsh Wire: Kristyn Buhl-Lepisto, Kalamazoo County Ready 4s

Anyone who thinks that pre-kindergarten is on par with babysitting just doesn’t understand the science or the economics behind early childhood education, according to the leader of an innovative and collaborative organization that provides accessible, high quality pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds.

“Eighty-five percent of an individual’s social, emotional, and intellectual development happens by the time they’re five years old,” says Kristyn Buhl-Lepisto, Executive Director of Kalamazoo County Ready 4s (KC Ready 4s).

She talked about the program with Sheri Welsh on The Welsh Wire podcast.

The goal of KC Ready 4s is to advance fully accessible, high-quality pre-kindergarten education for every three- and four-year-old in Kalamazoo County through collaborative leadership with public and private providers.

Since 2010, KC Ready 4s has been contracting with qualified licensed private preschools, child care centers, and group child care homes that achieve and maintain 4-5 stars as measured by Michigan’s Great Start to Quality. Those programs that achieve and maintain 4-5 star ratings are eligible for tuition support to qualified families (over 55 providers in 2020.)

Buhl-Lepisto says many studies have documented the benefits of quality pre-kindergarten, from higher graduation rates to lower rates of teen pregnancy and lower rates of incarceration.

“Also, access to high quality pre-kindergarten allows parents to be in the workforce. So it’s going to help with things like employee engagement and retention. The return on investment for early education is higher than any other public initiative.”

To recognize KC Ready 4s’ 10th year of operation, and raise $100,000, the organization is releasing 10 Videos to Celebrate 10 Years. In addition, anyone interested is invited to join a live stream on Oct. 1 for a Celebratory Cheers to conclude the campaign. Donors will receive information to pick up a Celebratory Cheers package, sponsored by Millennium Restaurant Group (MRG), with a range of goodies including a split of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and an MRG gift card.

Learn more about KC Ready 4s’ on this week’s The Welsh Wire podcast. Listen to Sheri’s full interview with Kristyn Buhl-Lepisto.

Subscribe to The Welsh Wire podcast on iTunes for additional informative, entertaining interviews with west Michigan business leaders.