Foundation for the future

Early education life-enhancing, money-saving investment
Monday, November 2, 2015
Douglas A. Wood
The Journal Gazette

All children deserve a strong start in their educational journey. But in far too many Hoosier communities, many children living in poverty miss out. Without access to high-quality early-learning programs, they fall behind in literacy, math and social skills. Unfortunately, far too many never catch up. Last year, our state spent nearly $22 million to remediate 4,500 kindergartners because they entered unprepared and had to repeat the grade. And in Allen County alone, only one in four children was kindergarten-ready. Not only is this an avoidable misuse of time, resources and money, but it brings to light a cyclical issue – missed opportunities to educate our youth, in whom rest the future of Indiana. . .

Up until this year, we were one of only 10 states to not offer state-funded pre-K for 4-year-olds. Now we finally have begun. On My Way launched this fall as Indiana’s first pre-K program to serve children, starting at age 4, from families who are below 127 percent of the federal poverty level. PNC Bank joined United Way of Allen County early on to match funds for this three-year program. Together with the state match, our seed money has helped begin the process of improving quality curriculum, teacher training, facility upgrades and family engagement.