An Indiana Senate committee has amended and approved a bill concerning a proposed state-funded early childhood education pilot program. The altered legislation would set up a study commission made up of lawmakers and public and private-sector leaders to create a “more refined” program. In its current form, the statewide measure would cost as much as $270 million per year.
February 19, 2014
STATEHOUSE – The Senate Committee on Education and Career Development approved an amendment today to House Bill 1004 – legislation that would establish an early childhood education scholarship program for low-income families. The amended bill, which passed by a unanimous vote, would instead create a study commission to develop a more refined pre-kindergarten program, said State Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville).
The commission would be comprised of lawmakers and leaders in education, business, child development and social services. They would study the following topics:
-The feasibility of using existing federal funds to establish an early learning scholarship program
-Options for funding the program through partnerships with businesses, philanthropic organizations or community leaders
-Opportunities to equip parents with skills necessary to improve their ability to contribute to their child's learning
-The economic impact and benefits of a pre-kindergarten program, as well as other states' standards for a similar program
-The appropriate income standards to use to determine whether a parent is eligible to receive state assistance for early learning programs
Kenley said this would give state and local leaders more time and resources to produce an effective pre-kindergarten program.
“Indiana and the federal government currently spend approximately $277 million per year on early childhood development programs in our state,” Kenley said. “Last year, the General Assembly approved a preschool pilot program that appropriated an additional $4 million. Before we enact a new program, I believe it's necessary to review our current resources and reach a decision that's realistic for our state.”
Currently, the proposed program in HB 1004, if extended to eligible children statewide, could cost up to $270 million per year.
Source: The Indiana Senate Republican Caucus