MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Governor Mike Pence asked Indiana lawmakers for a statewide, state-funded preschool program, but had to settle for a five county pilot project.
During a morning stop at the Lincolnway Café in Mishawaka today, Governor Pence said he was not disappointed with the development. “Indiana was one of less than some ten states in the country that has not provided any public support for some of our most vulnerable families and because of a strong and bipartisan support that that measure received we were able to move it forward.”
The Early Education Evaluation Program will carry a maximum budget of $10 million dollars per year; enough to fund the preschool tuition of up to 4,000 students in the five counties—to be named later.
“You know there's so many great opportunities for quality pre-K education across north central Indiana that we certainly are going to be looking very strongly to this area,” Governor Pence told NewsCenter 16.
At South Bend’s Head Start headquarters at Lafayette School Kathy Guajardo says she is very interested in taking part in the pilot project. “34 years I've been at this and this is our shining moment, to get out there and say yes, we're crazy about kids and we want to support these initiatives.”
For every 10 children who take part in the consortium’s Head Start program, another seven are on a waiting list.
“Children need to be serviced and parents you know it’s not only getting children ready for kindergarten it’s getting parents ready for kindergarten and the expectations are getting higher and higher,” said Guajardo.
Guajardo says the state and federal preschool programs were designed to be complimentary. “We meet the families up to the 100 percent poverty guidelines and then he's proposing that this initiative will take the parents who are at the 101 percent up to 127 percent poverty guideline and support their preschool needs.”