INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, State Senator Earline Rogers (D-Gary) joined other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus in voicing support for Lake County being chosen as one of the five counties that will be taking part in the state’s first early childhood education pilot program. Sen. Rogers noted a number of far-reaching benefits as reason for swift implementation of the pre-K pilot program.

“As a public school teacher, I have seen the benefits of early childhood education,” said Sen. Rogers. “Quality programs can close our current achievement gap, raise our graduation rates while lowering the costs of remediation, and can serve as a long-term economic development tool for the state.”

The Senate Democratic Caucus made early childhood education a legislative priority during the 2014 General Assembly session citing the fact Indiana was one of only nine states that did not have a state-funded pre-K program. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1004, sponsored by Sen. Rogers, established a pilot program in five counties and will make it available to about 4,000 low-income children in households making up to 127% of the federal poverty level (represents a family of four earning up to $30,289 annually). Public schools, charter schools, private entities, child care providers, and child care ministries that meet certain criteria will be able to participate.

While the act calls for implementation this fall, the governor announced the program is expected to begin in Allen, Lake, Marion, Johnson and Vanderburgh counties in 2015.

“This is the beginning for Indiana, and I am encouraged to see that the pilot program will be taking place in Lake County,” said Sen. Rogers. “We know the data will show that this program works well, not only for our most disadvantaged youth, but potentially for all students in the state of Indiana.”

Sen. Rogers represents Indiana Senate District 3 which encompasses portions of Lake County. District 3 communities include Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart, Ainsworth, Merrillville and Crown Point. For more information on Sen. Rogers, her legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s3.

###