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Mercer County Community Endowment Provides Funding For Cradle School

Cradle School Continues After State Cuts Funding

Cradle School instructor Lori Sheehan counts turkey feathers with Molly Goodpaster and Gracelyn Miller.

Jennifer Marsh

Herald Staff

Mercer County community Endowment  agreed to fund the Cradle School through the end of the school year.

Cradle School was facing new challenges in 2019 after losing grant funds because they were paying a certified teacher. The Governor’s Office for Early Childhood Development instituted new and retroactive regulations on the grant funds given to Cradle School in July 2018.

At the end of 2018 organizers were unsure of the future of Cradle School without a certified teacher and the group was brainstorming ideas to keep the program running.

“We asked the Mercer County Community Endowment to fund us for the rest of this year,” said Georgiana Bray, family resource coordinator at Mercer County Intermediate School. “We are focusing on finishing the last four months. We want to keep things the same through the end of the school year then we will figure out next year.”

Bray said the teacher and the families have established relationships and they didn’t want to disrupt classes mid-year.

The original grant proposal sent by Kathryn Crown-Weber, director and clinical nutritionist at the Mercer County Health Department, included plans to pay a certified teacher to run the program and the program had been running under the same guidelines for four years.

Crown-Weber said Mercer County Early Childhood Council has received and spent $10,641.62 on supplies for Cradle School over the past four grant cycles and felt the Governor’s office’s suggested uses for the funds were unrealistic and not a good fit for Mercer County.

Suggestions from the Governors’s office on how to use the funds ranged from advertising on a billboard to making shopping guides for children.

“The suggested budget going forward in fiscal year 2019  allows for $0 for personnel costs and $3200 for supplies and advertising,” said Crown-Weber.  “Why would we put up a billboard for a teacherless class?”

Mercer County Family Resource Coordinators and  Health officials started Cradle School in order to provide a free space to help parents understand the importance of education, social interaction and skill development in young children.

Twice a month parents are led by teacher Lori Sheehan in activities that teach fine motor skills, social interactions and important facial cues. Children from infant to 5-years old participate in the classes with their parent or caregiver, learning skills to take home that will help with school readiness.

Cradle School started at The Carpenter’s Christian Church six years ago and moved to Mercer Area Family Education and Wellness three years ago.

Recently, Mercer County School Superintendent, Dennis Davis opened space inside Evan Harlow Education Center for the program.

The next meeting of Cradle School is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17 at 9:30 a.m. and on Thursday, Jan. 31, the group plans to create glitter snow with participants in the program.

Cradle School is free to attend for children and caregivers.

For more information about  Cradle School, contact Georgiana Bray at 733-7086.

To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.

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