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Indiana plans for pre-kindergarten expansion

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Expanding preschool to the entire state is one of the goals Governor Eric Holcomb laid out as part of his legislative agenda. 

Indiana government now spends roughly $20 million a year on the On My Way Pre-K program. 

Jennifer Walthall, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said, “We want kids to grow up in places that are safe, that are healthy, and are incredible learning environments to get ready for school, to get ready for  life.”

Holcomb said Thursday he wants to keep prekindergarten funding where it is. There are roughly 3,000 children enrolled in the program, but the governor wants to add at least 500 more children into the program every year and make the application process a little easier for parents.

Walthall said, “The wait will be shorter. We’ll keep the enrollment open for longer so more people can get in.” 

The ultimate goal is to expand the On My Way Pre-K program statewide in the 2021 budget session. Right now, state-funded pre-K is free to qualifying low-income parents. That means many other parents often have to pay for what can be expensive preschool care. 

Walthall said this expansion will help Hoosier families. “It’s knowing that when mom or dad or caregiver goes off to work, or goes to school, that their kid is safe in a high quality environment.” 

Walthall said the state already applied for a Federal Preschool Development grant for children from birth to age 5 years. She said that’ll allow Family and Social Services to sit down with their early childhood education partners and create a real, tangible plan.

Walthall expects to learn the results of that federal grant application in the coming weeks.

To learn more about Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K program, click here.

To learn more about Governor Eric Holcomb’s 2019 legislative agenda, click here.

If you would like more information about pre-K providers in Indiana, call 1-800-299-1627.