Jackson County’s On My Way Pre-K program has opened registration for the the 2017-18 school year.

The state-funded program provides vouchers to qualifying, low-income families in the community to send their children to a local high-quality preschool for free.

The program is looking to serve 120 4-year-olds in the fall, an increase of 25 from the current 95 students. Children must be 4 by Aug. 1 to be eligible.

Registration can be completed online at onmywayprek.org or a paper application is available at the Jackson County Learning Center, 323 Dupont Drive, Seymour.

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A total of 13 preschool providers in the county are participating in On My Way Pre-K and have been certified by the state as Level 3 providers.

A Level 3 out of the four levels means the program has high-quality curriculum in place that supports early childhood learning and school readiness. Providers include public schools, parochial schools and day cares.

Parents get to choose which program best suits their family’s needs and wants.

Child Care Network is one of the 13 local providers and will expand its programming for the upcoming school year, adding a new site at Brownstown Elementary School. Morning and afternoon half-day classes will be offered. The classes will meet Monday through Thursday. Those who don’t qualify for On My Way Pre-K can pay the weekly tuition of $80.

Other Child Care Network preschool sites are at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School, Seymour-Redding Elementary and Emerson Elementary, all in Seymour.

Classes at Redding and Emerson are full-day and meet from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. Regular tuition is $140 per week, which includes snacks and lunch. Extended care services also are available at Redding.

Rachel Otte said she first learned of On My Way Pre K through Redding’s outdoor announcement sign and was able to sign up her son for preschool.

“It has helped our family out tremendously,” she said. “We can’t afford much, but this program has helped us a bunch, to be able to give schooling to help him learn and also to teach him to share and not judge people.”

She was able to send her oldest son to preschool through Head Start but said that program is different because it’s not in a regular school setting with kids that are different ages.

Jackson County was one of five counties in the state and the only rural county chosen in 2014 to participate in On My Way Pre-K. Other counties participating are Marion, Allen, Lake and Vanderburgh.

Erica Woodward, the county’s new On My Way Pre-K program manager, said she is excited about the growth of early childhood education opportunities in the area, and she wants to reach as many families as she can.

“The program is starting to become well known here, and parents seem to appreciate the opportunity to be able to send their children to high-quality programs,” she said. “I think not only parents but our entire state is recognizing the importance of educational experiences during the early years.”

Woodward said she was glad to see Gov. Eric Holcomb in his first days in office propose to expand the program. But any growth will depend on funding and support, she added.

At a glance

On My Way Pre-K providers in Jackson County

Crothersville

Crothersville Elementary Preschool

Miss Crystal’s

Medora

Medora Elementary Preschool

Brownstown

God’s Lil Blessings LLC

Brownstown Christian Church Daycare Ministry and Preschool

Child Care Network (at Brownstown Elementary School in fall 2017)

Seymour

Terri’s Playhouse

Lord’s Lambs Preschool

Head Start

Above and Beyond Child Care

Zion Lutheran School Pre-K

Laugh and Learn Daycare

Child Care Network (Margaret R. Brown, Seymour-Redding and Emerson elementary schools)

At a glance

To register for On My Way Pre-K for 2017-18, fill out an application at onmywayprek.org or visit the Jackson County Learning Center in Seymour to pick up an application.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.