In 2014, the General Assembly established a pre-K pilot program serving approximately 2,300 low-income 4-year-olds in Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties. This is a five-year program, and we are currently in the second year. Research shows that children who have access to high-quality programs like On My Way Pre-K are less likely to be incarcerated, have higher graduation rates and improved wage earning potential. This session, lawmakers are working to expand the pilot program.
When considering whether to expand Indiana’s pre-K pilot program, legislators have to look at it as a long-term investment in our children. Data shows that on average, children of poverty come to school anywhere from 12 to 18 months developmentally behind their age group. Without some form of intervention, this achievement gap could still be present at age 10 and potentially lead to a higher risk of dropping out of high school. With high-quality early education opportunities, these students can enter kindergarten ready to learn with their peers, closing the gap.
Even though our current program is showing great results in Vanderburg County and the other participating counties, Indiana still falls behind the national average in pre-K enrollment. I’ve been working with fellow lawmakers and community leaders to find ways to responsibly expand on this pre-k opportunity as well other early childhood education programs.
When thinking about what’s next for the On My Way Pre-K program, I believe it is important that we expand from the pilot counties to the surrounding rural counties. I recently visited St. Bernard School in Spencer County, where the students were attentive and eager to learn.
This program is helping our younger generation reach their full potential. We have tested this program in more urban areas, and my goal is to see it reach out to the rural areas just like Pike, Spencer and Warrick counties. By investing in our children, we are investing in our future.
As always, please contact me with questions or input at 317-232-9833 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate hearing from you in order to better represent our district. Stay up-to-date with the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.iga.in.gov/h75.
State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75,
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.
A high-resolution photo of Bacon can be downloaded by clicking here.