Pre-K signup begins

Enrollment for the first 45 spots in the On My Way Pre-K program will open Monday in Bartholomew County.

On My Way Pre-K is the state’s pilot prekindergarten program, which initially funded educational services starting in 2015 for children from low-income families in five Indiana counties.

On June 7, Bartholomew became one of 15 counties added to the state pilot, which will begin offering vouchers for 4-year-olds to be used by families beginning in January.

Online applications for the program will be available beginning Monday at onmywayprek.org, said Erica Woodward, On My Way Pre-K project manager for Bartholomew, Jackson, Lloyd and Harrison counties.

Students must be age 4 by Aug. 1 to be eligible for this round of applications.

Paper applications will be available Monday at six approved providers for the program in Bartholomew County, including:

Busy Bees Academy, R.L. Johnson Early Education Center, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., 1209 Sycamore St.

Children Inc., 715 McClure Road

First Presbyterian Preschool, 512 Seventh St.

Nana’s Little Angels, 2104 Seventh St.

Learn by Heart, 18107 E. County Road 350S, Grammer

Deb’s Day Care and Preschool, 5403 W. Quan Wae Drive

Because of the anticipated popularity of the program, Woodward advised that the online application process should be the preferred way to apply, as applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Although only 45 spots funded through vouchers will be available beginning in January, On My Way Pre-K will begin accepting applications again in January for more spots that will open up for the 2018-19 school year beginning in September 2018, Woodward said. The number of applications that will be accepted for the second round of applications hasn’t been determined by the state yet, she said.

On My Way Pre-K is receiving $22 million in funding with the addition of the 15 counties, $12 million more than was received by the first five counties in the pilot, state officials said when the expansion was announced in June.

Bartholomew County Superintendent Jim Roberts said in an earlier interview that BCSC will have about 300 4-year-olds in prekindergarten classrooms at 12 sites beginning this school year, which is down about 10 percent from last fall’s enrollment levels.

The school corporation plans to actively search for families who have 4-year-olds who aren’t enrolled in a preschool program to help them apply for the program, he said.

The On My Way Pre-K program provides a voucher for the full cost of a prekindergarten program, public or private, at approved providers. New this year, the state program will also provide wrap-around services, such as child care after a daytime prekindergarten program ends and when the parent can pick up the child, Woodward said.

“We are still looking for providers for the program — that is a continuous goal,” Woodward said of Bartholomew County preschool options.

There is no deadline to apply to be a provider and details are available on the onmywayprek.org website.

Program guidelines

To qualify for the expanded On My Way Pre-K program, a student’s family income must not exceed 127 percent of the federal poverty limit. For a family of four, the maximum income would be $30,861 a year to be eligible.

Additional eligibility requirements were also included in this year’s legislation, including a measure that requires a parent or guardian to prove that they are employed, are seeking employment or enrolled in school.

The original five counties in the pilot program were Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh. The new counties added to the On My Way Pre-K program are Bartholomew, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Floyd, Grant, Harrison, Howard, Kosciusko, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe and Vigo.

How to apply

To apply for the On My Way Pre-K program, visit onmywayprek.org.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.