Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Map: Which Counties Should Indiana Select For Pre-K Pilot?

Map by StateImpact Indiana

This map shows how many Indiana child care providers had achieved a Paths to Quality Level 3 or 4 rating, the bar state lawmakers have set for participation in pilot pre-K program for low-income 4-year-olds, on Jan. 1, 2014.

State lawmakers have approved roughly $10 million in funding for a small-scale pilot program for low-income 4-year-olds. Eligible students will be awarded vouchers to enroll at preschools that have earned top rankings from the Family and Social Services Administration, which will oversee the program.

The pilot could launch in five Indiana counties as soon as this fall. But which counties?

You know how much we like maps here at StateImpact Indiana. So we decided to map how many child care providers have received a 3 or 4 on the state’s Paths to Quality ranking system.

The results weren’t surprising: Access to high-quality preschool depends on where you live.

There are low-income kids in every Indiana county. But nine counties — Brown, Harrison, Jasper, Orange, Rush, Starke, Sullivan, Warren and Wells — don’t have any child care providers with a level 3 or 4 rating.

And not all early education researchers agree that programs rated levels 3 and 4 will provide the high quality experiences low-income kids need to get ready for kindergarten. A 2013 Indiana University study found level 3 Paths to Quality programs scored significantly lower overall than well-regarded preschool programs in other states.

Yet level 3 programs are the only options in 42 Indiana counties.

Naturally, the state’s most populated counties have more participating providers. But situating the pilot in the state’s urban areas won’t help rural kids. Only about 20 counties have more than 10 level 3 and 4 providers.

So we put the question to you, StateImpact readers: Which five counties make the most sense for Indiana’s pre-K pilot?


  • HoosierMommy

    Orange, Sullivan and Harrison, for sure, but those counties will need some help setting up eligible care providers – which would be a benefit, in and of itself.

  • Momof3Anderson

    I thought I read in the bill that schools would be eligible as well?

    • Elle Moxley

      Schools will be eligible, and you’re right — we don’t have them all mapped here since many are administered through Title 1 (federal dollars for at-risk students). Many schools with pre-K programs are also registered with Paths to Quality, though, such as Busy Bees in Columbus.

  • LPejeau

    Brown County Schools have a preschool program established in every elementary school and the capacity to accept more preschoolers. While none of these programs are rated levels 3 or 4 my understanding is that it is a technical reason, incorrect type of sink, rather than educational reason that they are not rated. With over 50% of students on free and reduced lunch programs this county would benefit greatly if state funding could assist more low income preschoolers attend these programs. The smaller population of Brown County makes the potential preschool population an excellent test case for this important program.

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