Preschool transport options help kids access early education

One of Non-Emergency Transport's vehicles along with car seats used for the preschool transportation program.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–In their work with schools and families, Align Impact Muscatine, or AIM, has found time and again that attending preschool helps kids have both the academic and people skills they need to do well in kindergarten and beyond. “Every year, we work with the school district and community partners to look at education data,” outlined Align Impact Muscatine Director Kim Warren. “Year after year, we see that children who attend preschool do better at the kindergarten fall literacy assessment; we also see that children who attend preschool have a lot of the social skills to be ready for kindergarten.”

Though preschool has many benefits for kids, many parents find it difficult to enroll their children because of issues surrounding transportation. Warren elaborated: “A few years ago, when we surveyed families, we found that transportation was one of the top barriers that families faced when deciding to enroll their children in preschool. Most preschool program hours don’t align with parents’ work schedules.”

To remedy these issues, AIM worked with each of Muscatine’s partner preschools, A Child’s Place, Guardian Angel Preschool, Head Start, and Wonder Years; and Non-Emergency Transport. Together, they developed a preschool transportation program parents can continue to take advantage of.

Currently, any family with a child attending a partner preschool can arrange for Non-Emergency Transport to pick up or drop off their student. Though Non-Emergency Transport does charge for this service, Early Childhood Iowa Muscatine County does have scholarships available to help families with financial need. Warren encourages any family interested in accessing these services to contact Early Childhood Iowa Muscatine County at [email protected] or 563-263-0273.

For families with children attending three or four-year-old preschool at the Muskie Early Learning Center, Warren noted that the district does have transportation options available for them as well. If a parent has questions or concerns about how to get their student to and from the Muskie Early Learning Center, she encourages them to call the school directly at 563-263-4998.

Both at the Muskie Early Learning Center and at the community’s partner preschools, Muscatine families have several options for giving their students a good start to their education. “We have amazing preschool programs in our community that really promote learning through play,” she shared.

Because these early education opportunities lead to better educational outcomes and even boost the likelihood students will complete post secondary education, Warren values the preschool transportation program. “The families who utilize preschool transportation have told us that without it, their children either wouldn’t attend preschool or wouldn’t be able to attend regularly.”

The staff at Non-Emergency Transportation appreciate the role they have in helping students get a good start too. “What I like out of it is these kids are going to school and we’re a part of it, ” said Non-Emergency Transportation Co-Owner Dana LaRue.