Students who participate in high-quality early education programs start their academic careers off strong, and are typically more successful later in life. Because pre-K is one of the most effective ways to close achievement gaps children from low-income families often face, I championed laws establishing the On My Way Pre-K pilot program in 20 counties. This year, I am working to expand this program statewide.
The current On My Way Pre-K program only serves a small fraction of children from low-income families in 20 counties. Across the state, there are more than 27,000 Hoosier 4-year-olds who do not have access to pre-K. I authored legislation that would allow any high-quality pre-K provider, regardless of location, to apply for state funding to launch new programs and grow existing ones. It is my hope that more families would benefit from the excellent early learning opportunities within their communities.
After participating in an early education program, students are better prepared to learn when they begin kindergarten. Research shows students who do not attend pre-K often enter kindergarten up to 18 months developmentally behind their peers. In some cases, this gap is still present through middle school. These programs help kids develop critical skills like following directions and working with others. Students who attend pre-K are more likely to graduate high school, have higher wage-earning potential, are less likely to need remediation in the future and are less likely be incarcerated.
These early learning opportunities are investments in our future generations. For every $1 spent on pre-K, the state stands to save an estimated $4 on future education expenses. On top of this, pre-K participants typically grow up to be more engaged in their community.
I know how beneficial pre-K can be for young Hoosiers, so as my proposal moves through the process, I will continue working to ensure 4-year-olds across the state have access to high-quality programs, especially those in low-income families. This legislation is currently being considered in committee. To follow the progress of this bill and watch legislative hearings live, visit iga.in.gov. To share any input or ask questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 317-232-9648.
State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents House District 91,
which includes portions of Hendricks and Marion counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.