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INDIANAPOLIS — The state-funded pre-kindergarten program operating in Lake and four other counties for the past two years will continue through at least mid-2019 and children in 15 additional counties will get to participate.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed House Enrolled Act 1004 into law Wednesday. It expands the availability of On My Way Pre-K and doubles the funding to $20 million a year.

"It’s a joy to sign this bill that gives more students a great start to their educational journeys," Holcomb said.

On My Way Pre-K provides grants worth up to $6,800 a year for 4-year-olds from families meeting income qualifications to attend high-quality pre-kindergarten classes offered by public, private or religious schools.

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It currently is running in Lake, Allen, Jackson, Marion and Vanderburgh counties. The new law guarantees those counties will receive the same or more money for pre-K in future years as they have in the past.

The 15 expansion counties will be selected in coming months through a process devised by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which manages the preschool program.

Lawmakers also approved spending $1 million a year so children living in rural areas of the state where there are no top-rated preschool programs can attend online pre-kindergarten classes.

"We know children who get off to a strong start are far more likely to achieve academic success," said FSSA Secretary Jennifer Walthall. "Building a foundation for educational, social and emotional development is key to ensuring children become well-rounded adults."

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