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Free preschool spots still open

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PRESCHOOL: Staff member Jen Horn plays with a child in the classroom at Pathfinders Kids Kampus in Huntington.
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PRESCHOOL: Children play in a classroom at Pathfinders Kids Kampus in Huntington.

by James Ehle - jehle@chronicle-tribune.com

Parents who qualify can receive up to 50 hours a week of free preschool and childcare at Pathfinder Kids Kampus in Huntington.

Kids Kampus is a provider of On My Way Pre-K, which provides free preschool for 4-year-old children during the 2019-2020 school year.

“This gives families who might not have the financial means to afford high-quality preschool at no cost to the family,” said Interim Kids Kampus administrator and Early Head Start director Elizabeth Hire. “It gives the children who maybe wouldn’t have any preschool experience a year of it before they go to kindergarten.”

Classes run from Aug. 7 through May 28, but Kids Kampus will continue to take applications on a continuous enrollment.

“We currently have enrolled five, but they’re still enrolling so we hope to enroll about 20-25,” Hire said.

This is the third year Pathfinder Kids Kampus has offered the On My Way Pre-K program, but this year is the first time the program is open to anybody in Huntington.

Pathfinder Kids Kampus is the only National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited center in Huntington County.

“That’s often a motivating factor to families,” Hire said. “We are getting the top-rated preschool program in Huntington and offering things that nobody else can offer at this time.”

Children must be 4 years old as of Aug. 1 and parents must be employed, in school, or taking a Work One course to be eligible for the free childcare and preschooling.

Parents can apply and check eligibility online, but Hire recommends parents come in to fill out the paperwork at the Kids Kampus.

“Now it’s all online,” Hire said. “So that’s harder for us because they don’t have anyone helping them step-by-step, so I’ve been encouraging people to come in and do it face-to-face.”

Hire wants parents to know the center has other opportunities for those who don’t qualify for On My Way Pre-K.

“We have a private-pay preschool and we accept scholarships,” Hire said. “We have a federally funded early head start program which is for prenatal moms until children turn three and that’s at no cost to the family.

“It doesn’t matter what your income or your ability or your job status is, we can find something for your children to get them some sort of early learning experience,” she added.