Preschool programs eligible for state grants

Local pre-kindergarten providers may qualify for state grants up to $30,000 to expand capacity, improve programming or purchase classroom materials.

This opportunity for Jackson County is offered through the On My Way Pre-K program, the state’s publicly funded pre-K pilot program to give low-income families access to high-quality, early learning preschool.

In 2014, Jackson County and four other Hoosier counties, Allen, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh, were selected to take part in the program. The deadline for providers to apply is Feb. 15.

“It’s using state funding to help build capacity or quality of life,” said Dan Hodge, executive director of the Jackson County Education Coalition. “I think it’s a great opportunity for some of these providers in Jackson County.”

Hodge said that, to be eligible for the grants, a provider must be participating in the On My Way Pre-K program or agree to do so.

That includes community-based programs — such as Head Start, licensed centers, licensed family homes and registered ministries — and public or charter schools rated at Level 3 or Level 4 in the state’s voluntary Paths to QUALITY rating and improvement program through the state Family and Social Services Administration.

Grant funding can be used for a multitude of projects, including the purchase of classroom materials and minor construction equipment such as sinks, hot water valves or child-sized toilets and furniture. The funds can also be used to develop curriculum and teach strategies, obtain professional development of staff or for materials to implement family engagement or activities.

Priority will be given to applicants located in high-need areas without an adequate capacity of pre-K programs, according to a news release.

“These grants will allow providers or programs to apply for equipment, resources and support necessary to enhance the quality of early childhood education currently being delivered, increase the capacity of high-quality programs, and if applicable, assist providers to reach a Paths to QUALITY Level 3 or 4,” Hodge said.

The grants are offered in three tiers: Tier 1 with eight grants available up to $30,000; Tier 2 has 15 grants available up to $10,000; and Tier 3 has 14 grants available up to $5,000.

For Tier 1 and 2 grant purchase requests, providers may include projects involving minor construction equipment and materials, supplies and other capacity or quality improvement needs.

Tier 3 grants may include supplies, equipment and professional development that increase the quality of instruction and improve child outcomes. Those may include materials and support to implement family engagement and involvement activities.

To apply, a provider would need to fill out an application and propose the idea with an estimated cost. If approved, the grants will reimburse programs for the purchase of materials and resources, according to the application.

Hodge said funding for these grants came from the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning and Early Learning Indiana through the Indiana Association for Child Care Resource and Referral.

At a glance

Applications can be found online at in.gov/fssa/files/OECOSLPre_K_Grant_Application.pdf.

Grant responses are due Feb. 15.

Recipients will be announced March 7.

At a glance

For information, contact the Jackson County Education Coalition at 812-271-1123.

You also can email info@iaccrr.org or call 800-299-1627.