Child Care Provider Fair, Pre-K Expo aims to connect parents with early education resources

Mar. 10—ANDERSON — The gymnasium at Anderson Intermediate School became a showroom of sorts Saturday for parents who brought their young children to the Child Care Provider Fair and Pre-K Expo.

Many of them, already thinking ahead to the beginning of their youngsters' educational journeys, were there to gather information and chat with representatives from several preschool programs and daycare centers around Madison County.

"We wanted to spotlight different resources that we have, different preschools that we have in the community, and not just in Anderson," said organizer Rachel Brooks-Steele. "We thought it was very important to get the parents out and showcase what we have."

More than 20 tables were set up in a large square on the gym floor. The arrangement allowed parents to chat with program representatives and kids to sample puzzles, logic games and other activities that would be part of their day in a preschool setting.

Becoming integrated into a school setting before kindergarten provides numerous benefits as a child begins the educational process, according to Pam Storm, federal grants director at Anderson Community Schools, who helped organize the event.

"They have such a head start on the other kids," she said. "It's not just the academic part. It's the socialization. They know how to sit, they know how to listen — all of those things that help them become successful students take place (in preschool)."

Saturday's event — which was split into a child care provider fair in the morning and a pre-K expo in the afternoon — marked the first time it had been held since 2019. Storm said the pandemic, combined with difficulty finding a suitable venue, prompted a four-year hiatus. But Brooks-Steele added that the intent is to return the event to an annual spot on the calendar.

"A lot of times people in the community are not aware of what resources or even what preschools are available to them," Brooks-Steele said. "That's why we're here."

Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.