IN THE WORKS: Identifying problems, seeking solutions in early childhood education

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 | 2:21 p.m. CDT; updated 12:00 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 26, 2013

Missourian reporters Natalie Cheng and Marie French want to hear about your experiences with early childhood care or education in Columbia. If you have stories or photos you want to share, you can contact Natalie at or Marie at

What do you want to know about preschool and daycare programs in Boone County and Columbia? Two senior reporters are working on a project exploring the state of publicly funded and private early childhood education in the area.

Studies on early childhood education have suggested that children who receive quality education before entering kindergarten are more prepared for school, do better on standardized tests and have better life outcomes.

Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher has championed the importance of preschool education, according to previous Missourian reporting. But in Columbia, like the rest of Missouri, there are more children of preschool age than there are spots available in preschools.

This disparity and the growing interest in early childhood education by policy makers are the driving force behind this project.

Here are some of the questions we have going in:

  • What does a Title I or Head Start experience look like? How does the experience affect a family or child? How easy or difficult is it to participate in these programs?
  • How do childcare providers and educators deal with cuts to funding and salaries in a changing field?
  • How do families with young children who don’t qualify for public programs handle finding early childhood care or education?
  • Who are the families who don’t have access to formal programs and what do they do instead?
  • What services exist to help immigrant and non-native-English speaking families educate their children during early childhood?
  • How do children in public early childhood special education programs do in school later on? What alternative forms of early childhood special education are available?

We need your help to tell the story. This is not an exhaustive list, and we’d love to hear about your thoughts on the above issues or other questions you think need to be answered.

If you’d like to share your experience with preschool or early childhood education and care, please contact us at or call the newsroom at 573-882-5720 and leave a message for Marie. Please include your name, email address and phone number and whether you'd be willing to be contacted as a possible source for the project.

Supervising editors are Elizabeth Brixey, Judd Slivka and Joy Mayer.

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