A new policy brief released by Early Learning Indiana suggests the state has more work to do to improve access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs. The brief says Indiana ranks 43rd out of the 44 states that offer state-funded pre-K programming.
"Mile Markers: Access to High-Quality Pre-K" says while pre-kindergarten programming is expanding in Indiana, access to such programs is not uniform throughout the state. The analysis says under 2 percent of eligible Indiana four-year-olds are covered by state-funded pre-K.
Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K program, which began in five counties in 2014, was recently expanded to include an additional 15 counties. The Indiana General Assembly also approved an additional $10 million per year to cover the new counties.
Early Learning Indiana says some of the barriers associated with the state’s pre-K program include the poverty threshold used to determine a family’s eligibility and the requirement that families must either be working or attending a training or education program to be eligible.
"Access to high-quality, state-funded pre-K should not stop at a county line," says Karen Ruprecht, director of research and practice for Early Learning Indiana and author of the brief. "Much like roads, pre-K should be treated as a critical piece of our state’s infrastructure and economy, a piece that helps ensure our future success."
The brief was funded by a grant from the Illinois-based Joyce Foundation. You can view the full brief below: