Indianapolis -- The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) today announced the selection of 18 counties as finalists for the five-county early learning pilot grant program established by the 2014 General Assembly. The pilot program provides funding for pre-kindergarten for low income 4-year-olds in five counties, with services delivered via public schools, accredited private schools, and providers who have achieved Level 3 or Level 4 in Paths to QUALITY, Indiana’s voluntary child care quality rating and improvement system.
The pre-qualified counties represent 12 urban and six rural counties from all geographic regions of the state (Northeast, Northwest, Central, Southeast and Southwest) and have an estimated 17,000 eligible 4-year-olds who are not currently receiving early learning services. The 18 counties are Allen, Bartholomew, Delaware, Elkhart, Grant, Howard, Jackson, Kosciusko, Lake, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Noble, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe, Vanderburgh, Vigo and Wayne.
“We’re on track and working to design a program that will be successful and will help the children who participate in it be successful as well,” said Debra Minot, Secretary of Family and Social Services Administration. “We look forward to partnering with the counties to assess their readiness and implement a strong program.”
In narrowing down the list of eligible counties to 18, FSSA, with the assistance of its advisory work group, examined more than a dozen objective measures of suitability including the estimated number of children not currently receiving early learning services, the number of eligible providers, and the percentage of children living in poverty in each county. The advisory group, composed of early education experts, included academic researchers from Ball State, Notre Dame and Indiana University; staff representatives from FSSA, State Budget Agency, the Indiana Department of Education and the Center for Education and Career Innovation; members of the Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC); and external organizations including the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance and the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children.