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New Policy Seeks to Maintain Socio-Economic Diversity of Preschool Academy Student Body

March 6, 2018 10:40 PM
The Hopkins House Programs & Assessment Committee, a governance panel charged by the organization’s trustees with overseeing programs, adopted a policy this month intended to promote and maintain a socio-economically diverse preschool academy student body.

For the past 7 years, Hopkins House has struggled to find a workable and equitable strategy to ensure socio-economic diversity, consistent with the organization’s nonprofit mission, among the young scholars enrolled in its academies, particularly its Helen Day Preschool Academy in Alexandria, Virginia.

This issue was raised in 2010 by parents of young scholars concerned that the academy was beginning to mirror the increasingly less socio-economically diverse Old Towne Alexandria community where the academy is located. Despite considerable attention and effort, a solution to their concerns remained illusive.

Across all three Hopkins House preschool academies, 60% of the young scholars currently receive tuition assistance (45% government subsidized, 12% military subsidized, and 3% receiving scholarships). The lowest percentage of families receiving tuition assistance attend the Helen Day Preschool Academy (32%) and 40% of the students receiving government childcare assistance will graduate in the next 15 months.

Additionally, none of the 53 young scholars on the current Helen Day Preschool Academy wait list are from families requiring need-based tuition assistance. Unless arrested, Hopkins House is certain to experience a continuing decline in the socio-economic diversity of the student body at its three highly sought after academies in Northern Virginia, for the foreseeable future.

"The academy is a victim of its own success," said Elizabeth Partoyan, chair of the Programs & Assessment Committee. "Over the past decade, as we have enhanced the quality of our child care services and improved outcomes for our young scholars, our wait list for admissions has gone through the roof."

"This is a good thing, a great thing, but we did not intend that low-income children would be deprived of the opportunity to enroll in the academy."

In order to maintain the high-quality of the Hopkins House Preschool Academy childcare services, while also ensuring that children from low-income families will have the same opportunity as other children to enroll and benefit, the committee adopted a new policy allowing families approved for government childcare assistance to register their children on the Hopkins House preschool academy Wait List at no charge for the first six months. If the family is not offered enrollment to the academy for their child in the first six months while they are on the Wait List, and wishes to remain on the Wait List, the family will be asked to pay the customary $100 Wait List fee.

According to Partoyan, this policy "will help to level the playing field for low-income families seeking to enroll their children at Hopkins House by eliminating an unintended barrier that favored families not dependent on tuition assistance."

The new policy became immediately effective.