Pre-K program expands to 15 additional counties

June 8th, 2017

Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Northeast Indiana counties are among the 15 included in the most recent expansion of On My Way Pre-K, Gov. Eric Holcomb said late Wednesday.

The new counties that are now eligible to participate in the program are Bartholomew, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Floyd, Grant, Harrison, Howard, Kosciusko, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe and Vigo.

Starting in 2018, prekindergarten will be available to four year olds who come from low-income families in these counties. The 2017 Early Learning Advisory Council annual report estimates about 6,700 four-year-old children in these new counties are likely to need care and whose families have incomes at or below 127 percent of Federal Poverty Level, which is required for eligibility.

“Eligible Hoosier children who start at the back of the line now have an opportunity to move ahead when enrolled in a high-quality pre-kindergarten program,” Holcomb said. “A strategic investment now to expand state-funded prekindergarten for children from low-income families is an essential investment we must make in Indiana’s workforce and our state’s future.”

Earlier this year, the Indiana General Assembly expanded the program from five pilot counties to 20 counties. The 15 additional counties will join Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties, which have provided early education via the On My Way Pre-K program since 2015.

The Family and Social Services Administration via its Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning looked at several factors to identify counties that demonstrated readiness to support an expansion of the program.

Legislation required that consideration be given to counties that are primarily rural. It also required counties to secure a community contribution of a minimum of five percent of the state’s total investment in that county’s program.

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