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New Centers to Serve Preschoolers and Families

July 31, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Thousand Oaks will launch an early childhood education program in September aimed at children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend preschool.

In addition to four preschools, the Conejo Valley Neighborhood Learning Center will open four family resource centers, which will direct families to health and dental care, parenting classes and other services, center Director Brenda Hunter said.

The preschool programs and resource centers will be available to all families but may prove especially valuable to low- and moderate-income families and those with limited English skills, officials said. Preschool enrollment will be offered on a sliding-scale rate.

The learning center was organized nine months ago by local educators, Thousand Oaks officials and county Supervisor Frank Schillo's office to develop a plan for spending a three-year, $1.7-million grant awarded under the state tobacco tax program.

That funding was generated by Proposition 10, the early childhood education initiative approved by California voters in 1998. Grants of varying amounts have been awarded to organizations representing 11 other areas in the county, said Jamie Cook-Tate, coordinator of the First Five Ventura County Commission, which evaluates the grant applications and distributes the money.

Preschool programs also will be offered at neighborhood centers serving Moorpark-Simi Valley, Oak Park, Oxnard, Ocean View, Hueneme-South Oxnard, Rio, Ventura and Santa Clara Valley.

In the Conejo Valley, the preschool and family resource sites will open at the Conejo Creek Condominiums in Newbury Park, Manzanita Elementary School in Newbury Park and Conejo and Park Oaks elementary schools in Thousand Oaks.

Parents attending a kickoff picnic Aug. 18 will be able to register their children for the preschool programs. The picnic is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. at Crowley House, 2522 Pleasant Way, Thousand Oaks.

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