Preschool applications open for limited On My Way Pre-K program in Monroe County

Fifty tuition-free preschool education grants available in January; full county roll-out to occur for the 2018-2019 school year.

Beginning September 25, Monroe County families who meet specific income requirements will be eligible to submit applications to participate in Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program.

The limited program will provide tuition-free education grants for up to 50 Monroe County 4-year-olds from low-income families to attend high-quality pre-kindergarten programs beginning January 1, 2018. A full rollout of the On My Way Pre-K program in Monroe County will occur in August 2018 with funding for up to 200 eligible 4-year-olds for the 2018-2019 school year.

Administered by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) and the Indiana Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning (OECOSL), On My Way Pre-K provides grants for 4-year-olds from low-income families to access high-quality pre-K programs the year before they begin kindergarten. Monroe County families who receive a grant may use it at an approved On My Way Pre-K program in our county. To be eligible to apply for On My Way Pre-K, the child must be four as of August 1, 2017 and families must have an income at or below 127 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Family gross income (before taxes) cannot exceed the amounts listed below.

Maximum Gross Income Guidelines
(127 percent of Federal Poverty Level)

Size of Family Unit Monthly Yearly
1 $1,276.00 $15,312.00
2 $1,719.00 $20,628.00
3 $2,161.00 $25,932.00
4 $2,604.00 $31,248.00
5 $3,046.00 $36,552.00
6 $3,448.00 $41,376.00

All parents/guardians in the household must also work or attend an accredited/certified education or training program. Applications will be available online at www.onmywayprek.org beginning September 25 and grants will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis according to the submitted application date. Families may choose from a program that is full-day or part-day, as well as from programs that end with the school year or continue through the summer. Families seeking assistance may also call 1-800-299-1627 to speak to an early learning referral specialist.

On My Way Pre-K launched in 2014 as a pilot in five Indiana counties. Earlier this year, in House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1004-2017, the Indiana General Assembly expanded the program from five pilot counties to 20 counties. In June, Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced that Monroe County would be among the 15 additional counties eligible to participate.

Prekindergarten providers participating in On My Way Pre-K may include public schools, community-based programs and private early childcare centers and homes. Participating On My Way Pre-K providers must achieve a Level 3 or 4 rating in the state’s Paths to QUALITYTM voluntary childcare quality rating system. Level 3 programs meet the health and safety needs of all children, create an environment that supports children’s learning, and offer a curriculum that guides child development and school readiness. Level 4 programs are the highest rated programs and have demonstrated a commitment to high-quality care through the achievement of national accreditation.

“I’m thrilled to be able to offer On My Way Pre-K as an option for families at The Nest,” said Director Emily Pike. “We know that far too many young children don’t have access to high quality early childhood education because the cost is prohibitively high. The Nest is proud to be a part of the solution by participating in On My Way Pre-K. That means more four-year-olds getting the good start they deserve and reaping the benefits for years to come.” 

Monroe Smart Start, a leadership initiative of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County is serving as project lead to coordinate and implement On My Way Pre-K in our community in collaboration with FSSA, OECOSL, and Chances and Services for Youth (CASY).

The Community Foundation has invested over $1.2 million in initiatives focused on increasing access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education in Monroe County. The Community Foundation has also committed grant dollars as part of the 5% required On My Way Pre-K community match contribution.

“On My Way Pre-K will increase the number of four-year-olds attending high-quality, tuition-free pre-K in our community,” said Monroe Smart Start Coordinator Jennifer Myers. “While significant progress has been made to increase the number of high-quality childcare providers in Monroe County, only 40 percent of children attend a high-quality early childhood education program prior to beginning kindergarten. On My Way Pre-K will allow more children to benefit from early learning experiences and put them on a path for success in school and in life.”

“We have, as a community, been very thoughtful about improving the quality of early learning experiences and access to these experiences for those families who financially wouldn’t have the capacity to do so otherwise,” added Peterson.

“In the state of Indiana, we know for every dollar we invest in early education, it’s going to generate another four dollars. It pays for itself in the long term. It’s good for families, it’s good for communities, and it’s really good for workforce development and for supporting local employers.”

About Monroe Smart Start:

Monroe Smart Start, a leadership initiative of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, began in 2007 as a coalition of educators, parents, business leaders, and others focusing on the first five years of life and the importance of quality early learning opportunities for school readiness. Monroe Smart Start works on behalf of our community’s youngest learners, helping to ensure children are ready for school and ready for life by

  • increasing access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education,
  • increasing quality child care,
  • increasing family and community engagement; and
  • building awareness regarding the importance of quality child care.

About Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County:

Created by individuals, families and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted nearly $25 million to more than 400 local nonprofit organizations since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $30 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes and community resources. Visit www.cfbmc.org for more information.

About On My Way Pre-K:

On My Way Pre-K is the name of Indiana’s first state-funded prekindergarten program, which was approved as a five-county pilot by the Indiana General Assembly in 2014 and has been operating since 2015 in Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh Counties. In 2017, the General Assembly authorized FSSA to add 15 additional counties. For more information, visit www.onmywayprek.org.

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On September 25th, 2017, posted in: News by

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