Preschool program could shift funds to other projects
The Harrison County Community Foundation could save as much as $300,000 for other projects, thanks to the state-sponsored preschool program, On My Way Pre-K. The program allows up to 50 students to enroll in the county for the upcoming 2018-19 school year.
To this point, the HCCF has been responsible for helping low-income families through its Jump Start program. It started in 2014 as a five-year pilot program to provide full-day preschool, according to the Foundation’s website.
Steve Gilliland, president and CEO of the Harrison County Community Foundation, said Jump Start had 142 students in the 2016-17 school year. The program is budgeted for as many as 200 children.
Gilliland told the Harrison County Board of Commissioners earlier this month that the Jump Start program costs his office roughly $6,000 per student in the program.
‘This is pretty exciting for us,’ he said. ‘If we can get 50 kids, that’s close to $300,000 we can save and re-direct some of our resources to other projects in Harrison County.’
Last June, the state announced Harrison County was one of 15 additional counties eligible to take part in On My Way Pre-K, which awards grants for 4-year-olds from low-income families which gives the child high-quality preschool the year before starting kindergarten. Floyd County was the only other area county added.
‘It’s free preschool for any families under the federal poverty level,’ Gilliland said to the commissioners.
According to state officials, there has been a significant impact on families who are participating in the On My Way Pre-K program:
Fifty-seven percent of the children in the program had not attended any child care or preschool program during the prior year.
More than 25 percent of parents with children in the program said, if they had not gotten their child into the program, they did not know if their child would have attended any early childhood program this year.
Of those families with children in the On My Way Pre-K program, 51 percent said they were able to increase their work or school hours because their child was in the program. Thirty-five percent responded they were able to obtain new employment while 33 percent began school or job training, thanks to the program.
For the 2018-19 preschool year, families must meet the following eligibility requirements:
Child must be 4 but not yet 5 by Aug. 1, 2018.
Child must be a resident of Indiana.
Parents/guardians in the household must have a service need (working, going to school, attending job training).
Families must earn less than 127 percent of federal poverty level (www.in.gov/fssa/files/CCDFSlidingFeeSchedule_withCopay.pdf).
Gilliland’s office has begun placing On My Way Pre-K signs at preschool locations where parents can enroll their child.
‘We are setting up all the intake people at the kindergarten registration sessions that will be happening throughout the county,’ Gilliland said.
He added most of the registration will take place in March with some also taking place in April.
Applications will begin being accepted starting March 1. Parents may apply online at http://in.gov/fssa/carefinder/4932.htm, by calling River Valley Resources (1-800-755-8558), the Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corp. Child Care Resource and Referral, or the Harrison County Community Foundation (812-738-6668) or by texting 812-260-0011 for more information. Applications will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The 15 additional counties approved last year by the state were selected based on their need in the community, with consideration given to counties that are primarily rural.