Marion among counties picked for pre-K pilot program

Five Indiana counties will be part of the state’s preschool pilot program for low-income children, which could be launched in early 2015.

State officials chose Marion, Allen, Jackson, Lake, and Vanderburgh counties from among 18 finalists that had applied to be among the first to receive state funding under a law the General Assembly passed this year.

The program will fund pre-kindergarten programs that are delivered by accredited private and public schools or by community-based programs that have achieved Level 3 or 4 in the state’s Paths to Quality voluntary childcare quality rating system.

“Every Indiana child deserves to start kindergarten ready to learn and to begin a lifetime of learning,” said a written statement from Gov. Mike Pence, who pushed lawmakers to create a pre-K program. “The state looks forward to partnering with these counties and working to ensure that these resources are made available to assist some of our most vulnerable children early next year.”

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration reviewed county applications to participate with the assistance of a group of evaluators representing academia, not-for-profit and business interests.

The programs will be funded through local funds matched with as much as $10 million from the FSSA.

State officials say the program could provide pre-K classes for at least 1,000 and as many as 4,000 low-income children. The number depends in part on how much private money is raised to help fund the program.

To qualify, a student’s family could earn no more than 127 percent of the federal poverty limit. That’s about $28,380 for a family of four.

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