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Indiana bill aims to help parents pay for pre-kindergarten

SB 375 would change the income requirements for parents with the goal of allowing more kids access.

INDIANAPOLIS — Many parents with young children are looking for help when it comes to early education. It's those early years that are really crucial.

At the Statehouse Monday, there was debate over Senate Bill 375, which is aimed at helping parents pay for pre-kindergarten.

It would change the income requirements for parents who want helping paying for their kids to go to pre-K with the goal of allowing more kids access.

The bill raises the income eligibility to 260% of the federal poverty level. In 2020, the federal poverty level for a family of three was $21,720. In other words, parents can make more and still qualify for some help from the state paying for pre-K programs for their kids.

Supporters say it would not only help more children have access to early education, but also aid parents who want to be a part of the work force. 

In his 2023 legislative priorities, Gov. Eric Holcomb called for expanding access to the state's "On My Way Pre-K" program. Holcomb's proposed income requirements that would expand pre-K access to about $5,000 more lower-income working families. 

In 2021, nearly 5,000 families got grants.  

"What we hear from parents is that they need access to safe and affordable childcare, including enrichment before and after school so that when they're working, their kids are in a safe place," said At Your School's Chrystal Struben.

This is one of several bills this session that address pre-K access. The difference in many of them is the income eligibility requirement for parents. 

SB 375 passed out of committee. The Senate Appropriations Committee - the committee that controls the money - needs to look at it before it can advance.

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