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Pre-k expansion bill to take effect this week

Eligible, low-income families in four Michiana counties will be among those who will have access to pre-k for 4-year-olds.

‘House Enrolled Act 1004’ was formally signed in April, but Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb will host a ceremonial signing at the statehouse Monday afternoon.

The bill will take effect on June 30.

It expands a program that started in 2015 from five Indiana counties to 20, including Elkhart County, St. Joseph County, Marshall County, and Kosciusko County.

They were among 15 counties added as part of the bill after proving there was a need for the program locally, plus resources available to maintain it.

Several state organizations spent the last few months deciding which counties to add.

The search started with a list of 27, before narrowing down to 15 by evaluating each county’s need for the program, its ability to support it, and the county’s kindergarten retention rate.

Michiana families living in the four counties mentioned above will be eligible if they have an annual income between $15,000 and $41,000 before taxes.

You can click here to view a chart to see if your household is eligible.

The 2017 Early Learning Advisory Council estimates about 6,700 4-year-olds in the 15 added counties will be able to take advantage of the program.

The bill also adds about $10 million to the program’s budget.

It will be rolled out throughout the rest of this year, with enrollment starting for the 2018/2019 school year.

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