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DETROIT EDISON FOUNDATION COMMITS UP TO $750,000 FOR PRESCHOOLERS

 DETROIT, March 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Detroit Edison Foundation today announced a commitment of up to $750,000 to help low-income parents prepare their preschoolers for classroom success in five Wayne County school districts.
 The grant to the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency (WCRESA) will enable WCRESA to operate an in-home instruction program, "The Parent Connector." The program focuses on helping low-income parents break the dropout cycle for their children.
 "By training and encouraging parents to work with their preschoolers, we're certain we can help them prepare their children for school and inspire good study habits, ultimately preventing the kids from dropping out," said John E. Lobbia, Detroit Edison chairman and chief executive officer.
 WCRESA will receive $150,000 this year for the program's 18-month pilot stage. The Detroit Edison Foundation will provide another $600,000 to fund the program through 1998 if the pilot phase is successful.
 Programs such as this address a local need that is part of a broader national issue, said U.S. Rep. William Ford, D-Ypsilanti Township, and chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.
 "It makes sense to invest time and money in our children at an early age rather than pay a greater price for their problems in the future," he said.
 Scheduled to begin in fall 1993, the program is believed to be among the first in the United States to use financial support from the private sector to promote academic success by providing both direct services to preschoolers and their parents and training for teachers to work with the youngsters.
 "'The Parent Connector' will give these parents -- many of whom head single-parent families or are teenagers -- the knowledge they need to help their children succeed," Lobbia said. "Through in-home visits and parent group workshops, they will learn how to prepare their preschoolers for kindergarten and receive advice about other services available in Wayne County to help their children," he said.
 Developed by WCRESA at the request of Detroit Edison, the program will ease the social and academic transition from home to kindergarten for children in the Ecorse, Inkster, River Rouge, Van Buren and Westwood school districts. Participants will be chosen from the waiting list of children who qualify for the Wayne County Head Start program but cannot be served due to insufficient funds.
 "This is an opportunity for education and business to work as partners to provide a unique program that will help parents at a critical point in their children's development," said Dr. William Simmons, WCRESA superintendent.
 "A good teacher can spot a potential dropout by the second grade," he said, "but even then it might be too late to change that student's direction. It's much more effective to prevent the problems that lead to failure rather than to treat them after they develop."
 The 100 families selected to participate will not be among those served by other intervention programs. For them, "The Parent Connector" will offer: in-home training for parents on how to provide school- readiness activities, and near or in-home access to programs on socialization, problem-solving and school readiness skills.
 In conjunction with the parent programs, kindergarten, first- and second-grade teachers from the five participating school districts will receive special training. They will learn how to encourage self-esteem, work with the children's parents and use teaching methods consistent with the multiple learning styles of today's children.
 -0- 3/22/93
 /CONTACT: Mary Kay Bean, 313-237-8809, or Lorie N. Kessler, 313-237-8807, both of Detroit Edison/
 (DTE)


CO: Detroit Edison Foundation ST: Michigan IN: SU: PDT

KE -- DE011 -- 8285 03/22/93 14:31 EST
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Date:Mar 22, 1993
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