Governor Pence and representatives of the five counties selected to participate in the state’s pre-k pilot program met yesterday to discuss implementation of the program. At the meeting, Pence announced four of the five counties (Allen, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh) are ready to start implementing the program Jan. 1 but Jackson County will wait until July to issue vouchers to families.
Dan Hodge, Executive Director of the Jackson County Education Coalition, says in Jackson’s County’s original statement of readiness they said they would not be ready to implement the program by January.
“What will be our biggest challenge may be to have enough capacity to reach the children that we want to reach,” Hodge said. “Because one will be trying to reach the children, we may have to go out and shake the bushes a little because we are a rural community.”Hodge said getting Level 1 child care providers up to Level 3 on the Paths To Quality will take time, which is why Jackson County is working toward a July implementation date.
Lake County will start enrolling students in January, but Dennis Rittenmeyer, the Lake County representative, says it won’t reach their final goal of 400 children.
“We are saying that we will attempt to start with 150,” Rittenmeyer said. “I have the fundraising responsibility and I’m optimistic we will find a match.”
Finding local donations for the program is a requirement of the law, as well as sending children using the vouchers to a Level 3 or Level 4 provider.