Indianapolis – Governor Mike Pence sent a letter to Secretary Sylvia Burwell of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expressing interest in expanding pre-K education for disadvantaged children. HHS oversees the Preschool Development Program grants authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
“Because of the success of our first-ever, state-funded pre-K pilot program, I am committed to opening doors of opportunity to serve even more disadvantaged children in our state,” said Governor Mike Pence. “Since the On My Way Pre-K pilot program has come online, we’ve served 2,300 kids in the five pilot project counties. I am committed to growing this program using state and available federal resources.”
In 2014, Governor Pence signed into law legislation that created On My Way Pre-K, which was the first-ever state-funded prekindergarten pilot program in Indiana history. The Governor called for the legislature to pass the program, and testified before the Indiana Senate Education & Career Development Committee in support of the bill (House Enrolled Act 1004-2014). The On My Way Pre-K program was approved as a five-county pilot by the Indiana General Assembly, and includes Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties. The voluntary, scholarship-based voucher pre-K program awards grants to families of four-year-olds from low-income families who live in one of the five pilot counties. These families can use the grants to access a high-quality prekindergarten program in the school year before they begin kindergarten.
“As Governor of Indiana, I support access to quality prekindergarten education, and I am committed to opening the doors of opportunity to the most vulnerable children in our state.”
“I am also pleased to inform you that the pilot program is going extremely well, and we are encouraged by the support and interest it has received at the local level. In fact, 2,300 low-income children have been served in the five pilot project counties, which are geographically diverse and represent both urban and rural areas across the state.”
“The Preschool Development Grants program, as updated in the ESSA, provides states with options to focus on conducting a statewide needs assessment, developing a strategic prekindergarten plan, maximizing parental choice, sharing best practices and improving program quality. We are encouraged that the program could be a good fit for Indiana now that “On My Way Pre-K” has had the opportunity to build the necessary foundation to support future program expansion.”