Group renews call for expansion of pre-k for low-income children this year
INDIANAPOLIS – As the Indiana General Assembly continues to debate expanding pre-k, today the “All IN 4 Pre-K” campaign announced it has earned the support of 150 Hoosier businesses, associations, community organizations and elected officials across the state.
In a public letter to legislators and the governor, the organizations called expanding pre-k a “top priority” for this session of the General Assembly, noting that “pre-k remains out of reach for thousands of young children.” The full text of the letter and the list of supporting organizations can be found at www.allin4prek.com.
“This coalition demonstrates the depth of support that high-quality preschool has across the state,” said Ted Maple, President and CEO, Early Learning Indiana, a leading “All IN 4 Pre-K” coalition partner. “These organizations recognize the positive impact early learning opportunities have on our children, families, communities and economy. We hope our leaders in the Statehouse answer the call to grow the state’s pre-k offerings so that many more low-income children can benefit.”
Launched in August 2016, the “All IN 4 Pre-K” advocacy campaign is made up of Hoosier families, community advocates and business leaders working together to expand access to high-quality pre-k for low-income children. Among those recently joining the effort are the Indiana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Indiana Federation of Teachers, the Indiana Economic Development Association, the Indiana Association of United Ways, IU Health, NIPSCO as well as dozens of other local businesses, community groups and mayors throughout the state.
The grassroots campaign is one part of a two-pronged initiative to push for pre-k expansion. The United Way of Central Indiana and a coalition of corporate partners including Lilly, Cummins, PNC Bank, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and the Indy Chamber have led the lobbying effort to expand pre-k in the 2017 legislative session.
“There are more than 27,000 four-year-old children in Indiana who live in poverty and lack access to high-quality pre-k. With a significant investment by the General Assembly this year, thousands more children can be reached,” said Ann Murtlow, President and CEO, United Way of Central Indiana. “The time to act is now. If we move too incrementally or invest too modestly in pre-k expansion, we risk losing a generation of children — at a high price to our state.”
The public letter from “All IN 4 Pre-K” coalition members builds on statements of support for pre-k expansion from leading lawmakers and other statewide bodies, including the State Board of Education, the Bicentennial Visioning Project and the Governor-appointed Early Learning Advisory Committee, among others.
While not endorsing a specific piece of legislation, the “All IN 4 Pre-K” campaign has produced a roadmap, Success Starts Early, with a set of principles and recommendations to guide a successful expansion. They include: broadening income-eligibility requirements for families who can access pre-k; increasing pay and education requirements for pre-k teachers; aligning pre-k with early K-12 education to ensure continuity and long-term student success; expanding capacity for high-quality providers to serve students; and eliminating matching grant requirements that are burdensome and unsustainable, especially for rural providers and counties.
To view the public letter of support, roadmap and other information on pre-k in Indiana, visit www.AllIN4PreK.com.
Jessica Di Santo
United Way of Central Indiana
Early Learning Indiana