2013 Indiana General Assembly

House OKs preschool voucher program

2013-02-18T16:34:00Z 2013-02-18T21:13:06Z House OKs preschool voucher programBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
February 18, 2013 4:34 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana House voted 92-6 Monday to establish a preschool pilot program providing tuition support for up to 1,000 4-year-olds to attend preschool in five to-be-determined counties.

House Bill 1004, which now goes to the Senate, allows parents in the designated counties who meet income eligibility guidelines to claim a preschool voucher worth up to $6,800.

Students would be required to attend at least 180 days of preschool in a year to qualify. The legislation mandates parents be actively involved in the preschool program.

"I think this is a great first step," said state Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, a co-sponsor of the measure.

Behning said low-income parents typically read to their children for just 24 hours from birth until kindergarten. That compares to more than 1,400 hours for middle- and upper-income earners.

He said allowing families of three earning less than $35,317 a year or families of four earning less than $42,643 to claim a preschool voucher will give those children a leg up and be better for the state.

Under the legislation, preschool voucher recipients would automatically be entitled to receive a private school voucher for kindergarten through 12th grade.

The proposal was co-sponsored by state Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point.

She said Indiana needs to do even more to promote early childhood education, including making kindergarten attendance mandatory.

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