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Students at a Jump Start program in Seymour work with their teacher on learning the alphabet.

Early Childhood Education: The Push For Pre-K

Background

In recent years, Indiana has raised expectations for its youngest students. And that means it’s more important than ever that kindergarteners arrive at school ready to learn.

Yet prior to 2014, Indiana didn’t provide any public money for preschool — and nearly half of all students started kindergarten without any kind of early childhood education.

That’s why Gov. Mike Pence made finding money to pay for pre-K his No. 1 education priority for the 2014 legislative session. With the support of prominent Republicans like Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, state lawmakers approved a small-scale pilot program for low-income 4-year-olds.

That’s a shift from just a year earlier, when broad support for early learning wasn’t enough to pass a similar pilot program.

Pence has said he favors a local, organic approach to solving Indiana’s pre-K problem — and that’s why the preschool pilot focuses on using existing providers to deliver needed services. The targeted program for low-income families will launch in five Indiana counties and rely on existing funds from the Family and Social Services Administration, as well as matching funds.

But with roughly 40,000 Hoosier 4-year-olds eligible, the back-of-the-napkin numbers add up quickly — serving kids not already enrolled in the federally-funded Head Start program could cost as much as $126 million per year.

Latest Posts

Applications Open For 10 Pre-K Expansion Counties

(Jen Rost/Flickr)

The state-funded preschool pilot program that began with five counties was expanded during the 2017 legislative session for 15 more counties. Now, parents in 10 of those counties can apply for half-year preschool. But all low-income families applying will also have to comply with a new program requirement. A state grant would pay for half […]

State Announces Pre-K Expansion Counties

(Barnaby Wasson/Flickr)

Low-income families in 15 counties will soon be able to use state money to send their 4-year-old children to preschool. Indiana’s first pre-K pilot included five counties – some urban and some rural. One of the additional counties is Delaware, where Carrie Bale runs the By5 Early Childhood Initiative. She says while she’s glad for […]

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