Bill aiming to expand state’s pre-K pilot program moves to Senate

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Legislation to expand the state’s “On My Way” pre-K pilot program passed in the Indiana House of Representatives and will now move to the Senate.

House Bill 1004, authored by Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) pass out of the House with a vote of 61-34.

If passed, HB 1004 would expand the state’s pilot program that was established in 2014 and currently serves nearly 2,300 students in five counties. Up to five more counties could be added, which would nearly double the amount of people impacted by the program.

Behning said only “high-quality programs and providers” in the new counties would be eligible to participate.

“This program focuses on bringing high-quality education to children living in poverty and providing them with a strong start to their academic careers,” said Behning, chair of the House Committee on Education. “It is common for low-income children to come to kindergarten up to 18 months behind their classmates. Providing these kids with early education opportunities is a step toward closing this achievement gap and setting them on a path toward success.”

The bill would also revise the program’s eligibility requirement. Currently, the threshold is 127 percent of the federal poverty level. It would be moved to 150 percent of the federal free or reduced lunch program.

Behning said children who are most in need would be given priority.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.