INDIANAPOLIS – On Wednesday, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) published an annual ‘State of Preschool’ report listing Indiana as one of only six states with an unfunded preschool program. Indiana made this list due to a requirement that says in order for a child to qualify for Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program, parents of the child must be working, attending school or actively seeking employment. This barrier has left 4,000 available Pre-K spots open that many low-income families have been unable to access.
State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) offered Senate Bill 338 this year, as well as similar proposals over the last few years, to eliminate this work requirement, but Republicans have refused to give the bill a committee hearing. Sen. Melton had the following comments in response to the NIEER report:
“We have hundreds of children missing out on quality education to prepare them for their futures due to a harmful work requirement that doesn’t take into consideration all of the dynamics of Hoosier families. Some of these children’s guardians are retired grandparents or disabled parents who in no way can fulfill the work requirement mandated by the state.
“Our children have no control over the economic status of the family into which they are born. Every Hoosier child deserves access to quality, affordable prekindergarten.”