Indiana – The new two-year state budget in Indiana is set to expand the accessibility of pre-K grants to an increased number of families, marking a significant milestone for early childhood education in the state.
The high cost of child care is a significant issue for many Indiana families, often exceeding the cost of a semester’s tuition at Ball State, as highlighted by Missy Modesitt, Executive Director of Muncie By5, an early childhood education advocacy group.
The situation is equally challenging in urban areas like Marion County, where financial burdens often weigh heavily on single-family households, even those earning slightly above average. Chelsea Ndaiga, school leader at IU Health Day Early Learning Center in Indianapolis, expressed her enthusiasm for the state’s decision to expand the “On My Way Pre-K” program. This initiative offers tuition funding to low-income families with 4-year-old children, with eligibility based on household income relative to the federal poverty line.
As of now, families earning up to 127% of the federal poverty line are eligible for grants. This equates to a yearly income of $38,000 for a family of four. However, from July 1, when the new budget comes into effect, this income threshold will increase to $45,000, allowing families earning up to 150% of the federal poverty line to qualify.
We’re thrilled with the progress,” commented Maureen Weber, President and CEO of Early Learning Indiana. There is always more work to do as we ensure all children have access to high-quality early learning opportunities.”
State Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond), Chair of the Senate Education Committee, emphasized the need to consider factors such as capacity before expanding further. While the Democrats at the Statehouse have advocated for universal pre-K, the Republican majority in the legislature did not approve such a measure.