In 1991, the legislators of Arkansas enacted Act 212 creating Arkansas Better Chance with funding of $10 million. The program was designed to serve children through five years of age with a variety of developmental and economic risk factors. In 2001, additional funding was added through a 3% excise tax on certain products to help fund early education. In 2003, Act 49 expanded ABC across the state with the addition of $40 million in funding, creating the ABC for School Success program. The purpose of this expansion of early childhood quality educational opportunities is to increase the likelihood of academic success in an at-risk population. In 2005, the Legislature was able to add $20 million in funding for ABCSS. The total funding for ABC and ABCSS stands at over $71 million and will service over 18,500 children in Arkansas.
In the Paragould School District, we serve 26 infant/toddler ABC students and 110 students ages 3-5. The preschool children are spread over two campus sites: School of the 21st Century Elmwood and the Paragould Primary school. The core quality components include:
Low student to teacher ratio/well qualified/compensated staff
Developmental screening and child assessment
Meaningful parent and community engagement activities
Proven curricula and learning processes which serve as the basis of ABC funding levels