Gov. Pence signs preschool bill into law

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday that marks the state’s first investment in preschool education. It is a bi-partisan accomplishment.

It is also a relatively small step into early childhood education, something that 41 other states already support. The new law calls for a pilot project in five counties that will serve a few thousand disadvantaged kids.

Nevertheless, the governor put on a big show at the DayStar Childcare Ministry on the east side. It’s one of the schools that may benefit from the new program that will create vouchers for families at or near the federal poverty level.

The bill signed by Mike Pence calls for a program to be up and running as soon as the fall. He says that it will be established in areas with the most need but the five target counties have not yet been identified.

“I do believe that when it comes to our at-risk, most low income kids,” said Pence, “early learning programs can and do make a difference between a lifetime of success and a lifetime of falling behind, dropping back and sometimes dropping out.”

“It’s the beginning of recognizing that early childhood education, if it’s done well, is expensive,” said Rev. Michael Bowling of DayStar Ministries, “but our children are worth that investment.”

The new law calls for investing $10 million of state money and up to $5 million of private money. The state money will be taken out of the existing budget for the Family and Social Services Agency. When happens next and where that money might come from is undetermined.

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