Education Commission of the States

The new year brings a fresh start, and nobody is more aware of impending changes than families in Allen, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties.

Indiana’s first preschool pilot program begins in those four communities in January, when an anticipated 450 low-income four-year-olds will head off to school for the first time.

Jeanne Christine /

Indiana’s pre-k pilot program launches in four of the five participating counties in January. But many leaders in those counties say they’re still finalizing the details – crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s of fundraising, getting providers up to speed and children into the classrooms.

The clock is ticking. A little less than a month remains until a new flock of learners makes their way into pre-k classrooms in Allen, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties.

Indy Pre-K Program Could Impact Statewide Discussion

Dec 2, 2014
Barnaby Wasson /

There might be more pressure on state lawmakers now that a preschool program has passed through the Indianapolis city-county council.

State lawmakers have been taking a meticulous road toward preschool, piloting a program in a few different counties.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard says the city may serve as a model, and a pressure point, for creating a comprehensive pre-k program state-wide.

State Now Taking Applications For Its Pre-K Pilot

Nov 12, 2014
Nicole Mays /

Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration began accepting applications Wednesday from providers interested in participating in the state’s pre-k pilot program, at the same time the department announced a new name for the program.

“On My Way Pre-K” is the moniker state officials chose for Indiana’s first state-funded pre-kindergarten program.

Barnaby Wasson /

Some Indiana corporate leaders are urging legislators to double down next year on a preschool pilot program. In January, the state will begin financial aid for low-income pupils to attend preschool in five counties.

PNC Bank regional vice president Connie Bond Stuart urged legislators not to sit still while they‘re awaiting the results of the pilot program. She says there‘s work to be done to expand Indiana‘s preschool capacity, through program expansions, teacher training, and parental outreach.

Barnaby Wasson /

Emerson Elementary School in Seymour is playing host this summer to a kindergarten program called Jump Start – as well as a group of participating five-year-olds like Zoe who is eager to talk about what she’s doing here.

"It’s like getting ready for kindergarten," Zoe says. "My teacher told me we were going to do a lot of stuff."

For Zoe, and many other four and five-year-olds in Jackson County, programs like Jump Start have always been their first introduction to school…until now.

Barnaby Wasson /

A preschool classroom can be overwhelming. Take one at Bloomington Montessori for example.

There’s a few dozen students scattered around the room, each doing a different activity. One child is painting on an easel, two boys are building and knocking down a tower of blocks, and a  girl is pouring water from one cup into another over a sink.

Teacher Eve Cusack attempts to stop all of this activity and corral the children to go outside.

Designing, finding, or affording a high quality preschool program is often just as confusing to navigate as the classroom itself.

Nicole Mays /

Parents in Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh Counties will soon be eligible to receive state funding to send their kids to preschool.

Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration Tuesday announced those five counties have been chosen from a pool of 18 semi-finalists to participate in Indiana’s pre-K pilot program. 

The FSSA selected the final counties based on their need for preschool programs and their ability to meet that need. Officials had also said cooperation between agencies in each county would be a major determining factor.

Nicole Mays /

The Family and Social Services Administration will announce this month the five counties selected to participate in the state’s new pre-k pilot program, Indiana’s first big move toward making preschool a priority. 

But many believe a child’s learning needs to be a priority from the beginning of his life, before he ever enters a classroom.

Amiri-Jayden Smith is three months old, and today his mother, Jazmin Smith, and her nurse home visitor Maire Flood are weighing and measuring him.

Smith's smile spreads across her face.

Nicole Mays /

Family and Social Services Administration leaders say collaboration between agencies could help Tippecanoe County become one of five pilot areas for a program designed to address early learning in Indiana.

FSSA spokeswoman Marni Lemons says her agency won’t necessarily choose which counties to award pilot program cash to based on the number of contributing partners, but on how well they work together.