Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Overwhelming Family Interest In ‘On My Way Pre-K’ Pilot

Updated Dec. 18, 2:40 p.m.: 

Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration totaled the count to 1,800 applications received from families hoping to enroll their 4-year-old children in the first phase of On My Way Pre-K. 

The goal for this first launch in January was initially to enroll 350 children in the four participating counties. However, the FSSA is looking to expand that number to 450. After reviewing existing capacities of approved providers, the agency will determine a target enrollment for each county by the end of this week.

The full rollout of the program in August is expected to include between 1,600 and 2,000 4-year-olds in the five counties.

The chart below shows the number of applications received and how many were deemed eligible in the four counties:

Data courtesy of the Office of Governor Mike Pence

Data courtesy of the Office of Governor Mike Pence

Original post, Dec. 16, 2:33 p.m.:  

The numbers are in, and it looks like interest is high for the first phase of Indiana’s first state-funded preschool program.

The FSSA received more than 1600 applications from families interested in participating in the On My Way Pre-K pilot program.

The FSSA received more than 1600 applications from families interested in participating in the On My Way Pre-K pilot program.

More than 1,600 applications came in from families interested in taking part in On My Way Pre-K, which will launch in four of the five selected pilot counties – Allen, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh – in a few weeks.

Applications from families interested in getting a spot in the program were due Monday.  Family and Social Services Administration spokeswoman Marni Lemons says by mid-afternoon, her agency had received just over 800 applications – a number that doubled overnight.

That number far exceeds capacity. The state originally intended to enroll between 350 and 400 children in those four communities. Lemons says due to the high interest, the FSSA is trying to see if they can make room for a few extra spaces.

Available spots for eligible children will be somewhat limited this time around, as only a portion of interested providers meet eligibility requirements to participate: specifically, a Level 3 or 4 status on the state’s Paths to QUALITY ranking system.

Interested providers have until the program’s full launch in August to reach that benchmark and submit an applicationJackson County also plans to be ready by that date.

County representatives are still in the process of determining which of those who applied fit eligibility requirements. We will update with official numbers as soon as they are confirmed by the FSSA.

Kim Olesker, regional director for the United Way of Porter County, says she is thrilled with the number of submissions in Lake County, especially due to the short window of time families had to apply. The FSSA posted the family application on November 19, and Olesker says as of last Thursday, she had received 148 entries. That reached 271 by Monday night.

“Talk about an indicator of need, of desire for high-quality preschool, this is your indicator,” Olesker says. “I’m very excited! We’re just hoping we can figure it all out.”

Lake County had originally committed to serving 100 children between the 20 area providers approved by the FSSA. Due to the positive response, Olesker says program representatives are trying to figure out if they can financially afford to squeeze in 25 more families.

Addie Scott of Marion County, a site coordinator for the Children’s Bureau in Indianapolis, gave StateImpact a breakdown of some of the reasons a family’s application would be denied:

TOTAL reasons

Remember, in order to participate, children must be four years of age (going into kindergarten in the fall) and live within county lines. To quality, their families must fall below 127% of the federal poverty line (about $30,000 for a family of four).

Marni Lemons says the FSSA will hang on to all applications submitted on behalf of children who are not yet four, in order to consider them for the fall launch.

Since counties received more applications than there are spaces available at this time, grants will be awarded through a randomized lottery process. That lottery was planned for Wednesday, but Lemons says that will be determined after intake agents process all applications to confirm eligibility.

The FSSA hopes to send letters notifying all grant winners by the end of this week.

Once a child receives a grant, parents may choose to send them to any of the pre-approved, eligible providers. The FSSA plans to release a list of those programs by the end of the month.

Comments

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education