Pre-K Voucher Pilot Program Bill Passes Ind. House
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – A new pre-kindergarten voucher program for children in low-income families is a step closer to reality in Indiana.
On Thursday, the Indiana House of Representatives approved with bi-partisan support House Bill 1004. The legislation moves across the hall to the Indiana Senate.
A pre-K voucher program has been part of Governor Mike Pence’s 2014 legislative agenda. He said Thursday that his administration will work with Senate members to move the bill forward.
“Every child deserves to start school ready to learn, and I am grateful for the overwhelming, bipartisan support in the Indiana House to advance a voluntary pre-K program for our low-income kids,” said Pence.
The bill would establish a pilot program to start July 1, 2015 that would help families earning less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level to get state aid to send their child to preschool. Four a family of four, that income figure would be about $43,000.
The pilot program would start in just five counties before possibly being expanded statewide later on. Children at least four-years-old could receive up to $6,800.
“This legislation will help pave a bright future for Hoosier children of poverty and allow parents the opportunity to provide their children with a quality education. Right now children of poverty start almost a year and a half behind their middle-income peers, and HB 1004 aims to change that,” said the bill’s author, House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis).
Funding for the pilot program would have to be established in the next biennial state budget to be crafted during the 2015 legislative session.