Behningís bill providing pre-K options to more Hoosier children heads to governorís desk

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, April 21, 2017 1:46 pm

STATEHOUSE (April 21, 2017) — State Rep. Bob Behning’s (R-Indianapolis) legislation expanding Indiana’s pre-K pilot program from five to 20 counties could soon become law.

House Enrolled Act 1004 would expand On My Way Pre-K, the state’s pre-K pilot program that was established in 2014 and currently serves nearly 2,300 students in five counties including Allen, Lake, Marion, Jackson and Vanderburgh. Under this proposal, up to 15 additional counties could be added, potentially quadrupling the amount of low-income families who could benefit from the program. Behning said only high-quality programs and providers in the new counties would be eligible to participate.

“It is my hope that as this pilot program continues, more at-risk four-year-olds will receive high-quality early education and be able to excel academically and socially when they enter kindergarten,” said Behning, chair of the House Committee on Education. “A critical demographic that is missing from the current program is our rural children. This proposal prioritizes rural communities and incorporates online, in-home learning programs.”

On My Way Pre-K’s eligibility requirements and income threshold would remain the same at 127 percent of the federal poverty level. For the five original counties, if programs are at capacity, the Family and Social Services Administration could raise the income eligibility to 185 percent of the federal poverty level to reach more low-income families. Behning said priority would be given to children who are most in need and to more rural counties.

“Studies have shown low-income children often start kindergarten up to 18 months behind their peers. Without some form of intervention, like pre-K, this achievement gap could still be present at age 10,” Behning said. “On My Way Pre-K and similar high-quality programs can provide children living in poverty a strong start to their academic careers.”

Funding for the pre-K pilot program would be provided in the state’s biennial budget.

House Enrolled Act 1004 can now proceed to the governor for consideration. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more about this legislation.

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State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents House District 91,

which includes portions of Hendricks and Marion counties.

A high-resolution photo of Behning can be downloaded by clicking here.