The state’s pre-kindergarten pilot program won’t be ready in time for Hoosier children to enroll this fall, but Governor Mike Pence says he’s hopeful the program, which provides money for low-income kids to attend high quality preschools, will be ready in early 2015.
After its passage by the legislature, some lawmakers – including Speaker Brian Bosma – said they hoped the pre-k pilot program would be ready this fall. But the Family and Social Services Administration, which will administer it, still has to select five counties for the pilot, establish an approval process for the pre-k providers and develop a kindergarten readiness assessment to measure the program’s effectiveness.
Democratic lawmakers have expressed frustration that the program won’t be ready in 2014. Terre Haute Senator Tim Skinner says Hoosier families have a right to be skeptical of whether the program will ever get off the ground. Governor Mike Pence says he’s anxious to get the resources into the hands of families that need it most.
“My hope is that we’ll be able to launch this pre-k program within the next six to nine months and we’re continuing to drive forward to that," Pence says.
Still, Pence says he won’t rush a program into place that isn’t ready.
“But it’s also very important that we do this in a way that is appropriate, that gets the dollars to the right kids, gets them into the right kind of programs and we’re determined to take the time to do that," he says.
So far, the FSSA has identified 18 counties that could take on the program and plans to choose the five pilot counties by next month.