Project Enlightenment. This best-kept-secret offers early childhood education and intervention services to parents and teachers of children from birth to kindergarten -- and they've been doing it well since 1969 for little or no cost to parents. From parent workshops about how to understand those crazy toddlers to counseling services for parents concerned about a child's behavior to a TALKline for overwhelmed parents, Project Enlightenment is dedicated to helping children be successful when they start school. They also offer a pre-K demonstration class and free development screening.
Sounds great, right? Makes you want to call and set up an appointment to talk about why your child screams and cries every time you drop him off at preschool even though his teachers tell you he has a great time every day? Feeling the urge to sign up for a class about understanding and supporting your "spirited child" (which, in Pippi's case, is the nice way of saying she's crazy stubborn and a pain in the butt)? Just want some advice on potty training from someone besides your child's grandparents?
Well, you better call fast -- because Project Enlightenment might not be around much longer.
Like school districts across the country, Wake County faces a significant budget shortfall for the coming school year. But this time, it appears that Project Enlightenment might not survive the cuts. It hasn't made the headlines because of all the other school board craziness, but word on the street is that deep budget cuts to this essential program are on the table for Tuesday's board meeting.
Cutting or eliminating the services provided by Project Enlightenment would be beyond short-sighted. Significant research has shown that early intervention is the key to making children successful in school -- and it saves millions of tax dollars over time because those same children are much less likely to require special education services once they enter elementary school. And the program's reach extends far beyond the building's walls, as preschool teachers across the county (including the ones at my children's preschool) receive excellent professional development through Project Enlightenment.
If you live in Wake County, please take a moment to email the school board members and let them know about your support for Project Enlightenment. There's also a Facebook group called "Save Project Enlightenment!" that you can join to show your support. Please don't let this program fade away without a fight.