INDIANAPOLIS – Children four years of age across rural Indiana now have an opportunity to prepare for school, thanks to funding from the state legislature.

Waterford UPSTART was introduced to help families without access to On My Way PreK or who can’t afford preschool in their area. Without this program, these kids could start school well behind their peers.

Waterford UPSTART is an at-home program that helps parents become their child’s first teacher. It offers tools like adaptive software, workbooks, and an app to track their child’s progress. A Family Education Liaison also gives parents guidance on helping their child learn and develop every step of the way. The program includes online content, so a computer and internet service are provided for families in need, at no cost.

Waterford UPSTART came to Indiana last fall after the Indiana General Assembly passed HB 1004. Legislators saw that there were early education gaps across the state, and they wanted to make sure those without access to PreK programs were able to prepare for their first day of school.

The first pilot began in October 2018 with 195 4-year-olds, and it saw overwhelming success. Notably, 85% of children finished at a “kindergarten beginning” level or above, meaning they are ready for school. The average child finished at a “kindergarten Intermediate” level. That’s where most children score in the middle of their kindergarten year. In terms of gender, girls on the program outperformed boys.

To qualify for the program, the child must meet all of the following requirements:

• Household annual income does not exceed 127% of the federal poverty level

• Lives in a qualifying rural code (Green counties on the map)

• Has no access to On My Way PreK

• Agrees to use the Waterford UPSTART software 30 minutes a day (with personalized instruction in reading, math, and science), five days a week.

Families in the green counties listed on the map can register their 4-year-olds right now!

Eligible children will begin kindergarten in 2020.

Spots are limited. For more information, go to waterfordupstart.org.

Additional information is also available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfCJHKgr1nY

– Information provided