On My Way Pre-K still accepting applications

Program can place 35 more subsidized kids

Fifteen students have been accepted into the On My Way Pre-K program in Bartholomew County, which has 50 slots for state-subsidized preschool students starting in January, a state spokeswoman said.

Applications are still being accepted for the state program that provides vouchers to help qualifying families send their children to prekindergarten at seven providers in Bartholomew County, said Marni Lemons, spokeswoman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

On My Way Pre-K awards grants to 4-year-olds from low-income families so that they may have access to a high-quality prekindergarten program the year before they begin kindergarten.

Bartholomew County was among 15 counties named in June to receive state funding for the program, designed to expand options for families that would otherwise struggle to pay for prekindergarten on their own.

Fifty-four families had applied for openings as of last month, but Lemons said many of them either didn’t qualify or failed to meet with an intake specialist as part of the requirements under the program.

Rules and regulations by the state also mandate that child caregivers either must be employed or in school, she said.

However, Lemons said the state agency is working to fill as many spots possible.

“It’s always a bit of a challenge to start in January,” Lemons said. “But we had intended this always as a trial run for new counties to make sure their systems are in place.”

The On My Way Pre-K program will help students sharpen their abilities to learn, which will benefit them in the long run, said Jim Roberts, superintendent for the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.

“The earlier we can get kids into school in the learning process, the better off they’re gonna be,” Roberts said.

The program will have 100 spots available in Bartholomew County for fall 2018, and Roberts said he hopes all of them get filled to help students attend pre-K who might not otherwise have the opportunity to do so.

Applications for those spaces for the 2018-19 school year will be made available in the spring, said Erica Woodward, On My Way Pre-K project manager for Bartholomew, Harrison, Floyd and Jackson counties.

On the Web

For more information on the On My Way Pre-K program, visit onmywayprek.org.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com