IN Brief

Free pre-K enrollment still open for low-income Hoosier kids

By: - June 29, 2022 1:00 pm

Getty Images

Hoosier parents still have time to register kids for the state’s On My Way Pre-K program before the start of the next school year.

The grant-based program provides access to free pre-kindergarten education for Indiana children from low-income families.

Children eligible for the 2022-2023 school year must be 4 years old by August 1 and plan to go to kindergarten in the 2023-2024 academic year.  They must live in a household with an income below 127% of the federal poverty level — equivalent to a household income of $2,937 per month for a family of four.

The child’s parents or guardians are also required to be working, going to school, attending job training, or searching for employment.

There will be limited enrollment for children who live in households with incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty level — equivalent to a monthly household income of up to $4,278 for a family of four. Those children must also have parents or guardians who are working, going to school, attending job training, searching for employment, or receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Once a family is approved for a grant, they can choose any approved On My Way Pre-K program provider. That includes programs located in a public or private school, licensed child care center, licensed home, or registered ministry. Families also have the ability to choose a program that is full or part-day, as well as from programs that end with the school year or continue through the summer.

There is no official deadline for applications because classroom start dates vary by district. Program officials said they will accept new applications up until the start of the new academic year, but noted that the window to apply could remain open for a few additional weeks, depending on where the child plans to attend pre-K.

A record high of nearly 4,800 students enrolled in the program in the 2021-2022 academic year, according to Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. Around 1,0000 Hoosier kids have enrolled for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year as of June 1.

State officials and education experts maintain that pre-K attendance helps children develop important social and learning skills that prepare them for kindergarten and beyond.

Qualifying children who participated in On My Way Pre-K performed better than those who did not participate on general school readiness skills, such as identifying shapes, colors and numbers and language and literacy skills in kindergarten, according to state data. Students in the program also tended to have higher performance on ILEARN English/Language Arts tests in grades 3 and 4.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.