BHK preschool follows state, fed guidelines

HOUGHTON – Because of its source of funding, BHK Child Development is limited as to which families are eligible for BHK services.

Page Isaksson, Early Head Start Coordinator at BHK is one of the people who works with recruitment and applicants for offered services understands the community concern regarding the lack of available placement in preschool organizations.

“In making sure that they are meeting those eligibility requirements, there are strict requirements, obviously,” Isaksson said, “and I wonder if when the community talks about not having the preschools, a lot of it, I think, has to do with you can only serve those eligible families.”

BHK does not determine who meets the eligibility requirements for families, Cheryl Mills, director of BHK Child Development said. Because BHK is funded through state and federal agencies, BHK has a list of requirements set before them that families must meet. Income is one of them, but not the only one.

“You could have risk factors that could qualify you,” she said. “But there are so many variables within the state and federal regulations that the easiest thing for us to say is ‘come in and apply, we’ll do a quick screen over the phone to see if you’re eligible for funding, but we don’t turn you away if you still want to to get on our radar.”

There are private family daycare and preschool centers in the area, Mills said, but because of the nature of BHK’s mission, licensing is insufficient.

“We struggle in our own agency for qualified staff to teach early preschool and early toddler,” Mills said. “Because we are funded by federal and state, we have a higher credential needed than just pure licensing, so it’s a higher quality, and higher safety standard, beyond safety. It’s beyond just care. It’s truly education and support services to families. All the kids have health services and dental and screenings and mental health support and family support.”

The risk factors Mills mentioned comprise part of the eligibility requirements for BHK enrollment. Risk factors include whether or not there is a single parent, whether or not the child or family is homeless, and if the child is within the foster systems, just to name a few.

“If they are in the foster care system or are homeless, income doesn’t count,” Mills said. “Because they’re a foster child, that qualifies them.There are so many risk factors of what them to that place.”

“We do have a few opportunities for parent pay, it’s just once we have all of our enrollment slots filled, then we can open that up. It just depends on where the children are, too. The age of the children, and where they’re applying demographically, if there’s space in that center or not.”

Those receiving public assistance qualify, Mills said. Parent education is also a factor.

“But there’s other like if your parents didn’t complete high school, that’s a risk factor. If you were exposed prenatally to alcohol or drugs, those are risk factors that they feel will impact the educational outcome of a child.”