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Study: Indiana ranks poorly in access to pre-K

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana ranked second to last in a new study based on access to pre-K programs.

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Indiana ranked 43 of 44 on the list of places that offer state-funded pre-K programs, according to Early Learning Indiana’s study. More than 27,000 of the 4-year-olds living within the state aren’t enrolled in pre-K programs mostly due to their affordability, Early Learning Indiana finds.

While Indiana may be behind other states, the study finds Hoosier leaders are taking the steps necessary to expand access.

In April, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill to expand the state’s On My Way pre-K program from five to 20 counties in 2018. The legislation also increased funding for early education programs by $10 million per year.

"We don't want this to be a process that takes 15 or 20 years,” said Karen Ruprecht of Early Learning Indiana. “Right now, access to high quality state funded pre-k really depends on where families and children live and we don't want children to fall behind."

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The organization believes new job and education requirements for parents have created barriers. Parents who receive a scholarships for their children are required to have a job or attend a certified or accredited job training or education program.

"When we're talking about access issues, we really want access to open up the door for more and more families to participate and not put additional barriers on participation for families,” said Ruprecht.

In order for all children to have access to preschool, it would cost the state an estimated $150 million.


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