$7 million federal grant to support Indiana preschool programs

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- The state of Indiana was awarded nearly $7 million in the form of a federal grant to improve the state’s early childhood education system.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced the funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday. The administration will begin to evaluate existing programs to see where the grant funding is most needed.

The grant should help streamline programs across the state, strengthen the workforce of pre-K educators and close access gaps for low-income Indiana families.

Mindy Dablow is the principal for Clarksville Elementary School, which houses the district’s early childhood development program. Every year, there is a waiting list to get into one of the two half-day preschool classes the district offers. Dablow said the cost of preschool often hinders families from getting their children into programs.

“Preschool and day care is so expensive for families,” Dablow said. “And it’s such a hardship. So if we, through our public school system, are able to offer more programming, absolutely that would be beneficial to take that burden off families. You hate to think about cost being a factor for keeping a child out of preschool, but unfortunately for many families, it is.”

Dablow said children who start kindergarten without any preschool classes are at a disadvantage. Kindergarten education standards are stricter now, and she said having that jump start educationally and socially is critical to success and a seamless transition.

“It’s wonderful when kids come to us with a head start on their letters and their numbers and their colors, all those basic school readiness skills,” she said. “But the social skills -- learning how to take turns, learning how to listen and follow directions, things like that -- those social skills are just as important coming into kindergarten.”

According to the FSSA, the one-year grant does have the opportunity to apply for future funding.

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