Tobacco tax aids preschool programs
LAKE ELSINORE ---- Expanded child-care services and an improved program for low-income families are only some of the goals Lake Elsinore school officials have in mind for their share of an $18 million grant.
The Lake Elsinore Unified School District is one of 81 public agencies and schools that qualified for a slice of $18 million in tobacco-tax money awarded this week by the Riverside County Children and Families Commission.
The money represents Riverside County's share of the tax hike, approved by voters in 1998, of 50 cents per pack of cigarettes.
The grants range from $16,000 to $1.7 million and are earmarked for programs benefiting children ages 5 and younger.
The district qualified for a $1 million grant to expand child-care services at Valley Adult School for children 5 and younger. The money will also be used to add a preschool class to the district's Family Resource Center and extend hours at Head Start state preschool program, which assists low-income families with child-care services.
"The extra money will help us provide better services to parents and improve our system of care," said Vicki Weber, administrator of the district's educational services department.
Another portion of the tobacco-tax money ---- about $1.7 million ---- will be distributed to the Riverside County Office of Education to provide child-care subsidies to struggling families in the county.
A group of community members reviewed the applications and gave their recommendations to the commission. The grants were separated into two categories with about $13 million reserved for the operational costs of programs and about $5 million set aside for capital expenses.