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Once Thought Dead, Pre-K Pilot Bill Gets Approval

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The House Thursday approved a preschool pilot program after it was seemingly left for dead just two weeks ago.

Speaker Brian Bosma says creation of the pre-k pilot wouldn’t have been possible without a funding mechanism crafted by the Senate.  The program can use up to $10 million in existing funds from the Family and Social Services Administration, while at least ten percent and up to 50 percent of that in matching funds must come from private sources. 

Indianapolis Republican Representative Bob Behning says that could provide high quality preschool opportunities for anywhere from two thousand to 4,500 low-income children. 

Crown Point Democratic Representative Shelli VanDenburgh says it’s the best and biggest bipartisan legislation for helping young Hoosiers.

“This also will allow Indiana to receive much-needed grant money from the federal level that we will now qualify for,” VanDenburgh said. “So this will bring millions of dollars to our state.”

To be eligible, families must earn at or below 127 percent of the federal poverty level – about $30,000 for a family of four.  That’s lower than the eligibility from the original bill, which would have been about 43 thousand for a family of four.  

Bosma says he’s hopeful the program can begin as early as this fall.

The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.