Governor Eric Holcomb approved 15 additional IN counties today for participation IN On My Way Pre-K, the state's first state-funded preschool program.
Others chosen include Bartholomew, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Grant, Harrison, Howard, Kosciusko, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe and Vigo.
The program will be available to 4-year-olds from low-income families.
The counties were added as a result of the Indiana General Assembly's decision earlier this year to expand the program from five to 20 counties.
In a press release, Governor Holcomb said, "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". Counties were also required to secure a community contribution of a minimum of five percent of the state's total investment in that county's program. "It takes a lot of people interested in a situation and letting their voices be heard".
"That doesn't leave them many options", he said.
"We have, as a community, been very thoughtful about improving the quality of early learning experiences in this community and the access to those experiences for those who financially wouldn't have the capacity to do so otherwise", Peterson says. She said there are potentially over 300 4-year-olds in the county who could benefit from the program. She says she thinks the program will have a significant positive impact for those children, and may have a larger impact on the community as a whole.
Burns added that it's unclear right now how many children will be able to enroll in the pre-K program; it will depend on how much money the state provides to the county.
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which is managing the pilot, has seen children in the program make higher gains than their peers in "important aspects of school readiness such as language comprehension, early literacy, executive functioning and a reduction in behavior problems in the classroom", agency Secretary Jennifer Walthall said.