There is still plenty of space for early learners in the On My Way Pre-K program for Monroe County, where more than half of 3- and 4-year-olds are in need of child care.
Crystal Moore, project manager for the state-funded preschool program in Monroe and Vigo counties, said 26 children had secured grants to attend pre-kindergarten class during the 2018-19 school year for free.
That leaves 174 of the allotted 200 spots still open. Ninety-six families are still in the pipeline to secure grants, but even if they all receive a spot, there are still dozens of grants available for local 4-year-olds.
“I’m hopeful that now is the time for all families to look for pre-K and we can get as many of those spots filled between now and the first of August,” Moore said.
Fifty-nine percent of 3-year-old and 4-year-old children in Monroe County are in need of preschool or childcare, according to a 2018 report by the Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee. That’s higher than both the state average and national average of 52 percent from 2014-16, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which collects information on the well-being of children throughout the country.
While Indiana ranked 28th in the nation for overall child well-being, 24th in economic well-being and 31st in health, it ranked 14th in education. That ranking is “a bright spot for us,” said Tami Silverman, CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute.
Enrollment in preschool and early child care is part of that ranking, as preschool programs “play an important role in preparing children for success and lead to higher levels of educational attainment, career advancement and earnings,” according to the Data Book.
As of March, Indiana provides funding for pre-K programs in 20 counties ,including Monroe and nearby Bartholomew and Marion counties. On My Way Pre-K grants are available for families who earn less than 127 percent of the federal poverty level, which is less than $2,604 a month for a family of four.