Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana Will Tap Into Existing Funds To Pay For Pre-K Pilot

Students work on art projects at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Students work on art projects at Busy Bees Academy, a public preschool in Columbus.

Funding for Indiana’s newly-minted preschool program will come from existing appropriations and federal funds.

The approved legislation uses existing Family and Social Services Administration money and private contributions to fund a pilot program in five counties that could provide up to 4,500 low-income children with money to attend a high quality preschool.

Indiana already gets two pots of federal money for very young students: Head Start dollars, and the Child Care Development Block Grant. And the former won’t change as a result of the pre-K legislation, says Indiana Head Start Association Executive Director Cheryl Miller.

“Our funding is actually not connected to the state funding at all,” says Miller. “We are a program that for almost 50 years has retained that structure that is federal to local.”

Not having the state as a middleman means lower administrative costs for local Head Start grantees. But it also means the state can’t take Head Start dollars to use for the pre-K pilot.

Instead the state is looking at using federal money used to provide daycare vouchers for low-income families.

“The childcare dollars have a very specific purpose in providing childcare assistance to working families or families that are going to school that are poor,” says Michael Conn-Powers, director of the Early Childhood Center at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. “Those dollars the state does, that comes to the state, the state can leverage.”

Conn-Powers says using the childcare development funds to pay for pre-K could move more kids into higher quality programs, as the pilot requires students enroll at preschools that have received the state’s top two ratings.


  • indyscott

    Why don’t we abolish the inefficient Federal Department of Education. Tax money needs to stay home for our local and state government to determine what is best for our students.

  • Bob Eckert

    @IndyScott: Show me examples of clear and concise cases of inefficiency that can I can confirm myself.

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