FILE - Child care day care

(The Center Square) – Indiana families that include what the state deems as essential workers now can receive grants to help cover early child care and other education costs.

The state will use $101 million in federal COVID-19 money to fund Build, Learn, Grow scholarships that will go to families working in essential industries with incomes 127% of the federal poverty level or below. The scholarships run from May through October and cover 80% of the early care and education programs' tuition.

The state plans to offer 50,000 scholarships through the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

“By connecting families with quality education programs for their children close to home, and covering a majority of the cost, parents can get back to work more easily,” Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, said. “Providing kids new learning opportunities is critical to keeping our state moving in the right direction.”

The program works through the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning, along with the Indiana Afterschool Network.

The state also is offering pre-kindergarten grants for low-income families to enroll in local programs.

A child must be age 4 by Aug. 1 and plan to start kindergarten during the 2022-23 school year to qualify. They also must live in a household with an income below 127% of the federal poverty level and have a parent or guardian working, going to school, attending job training or looking for employment.

A limited number of grants for households up to 185% of the federal poverty level also are available for parents or guardians meeting the employment requirements or who receives Social Security disability insurance or supplemental security income benefits.

“Indiana’s pre-K program can help jumpstart a child’s education and set them on the path for a bright future,” Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, said. “Not only are preschoolers learning the ABCs and 123s, but they are also learning how to follow directions, work with others and share. These skills provide a strong foundation for students as they enter kindergarten and throughout the rest of their lives.”

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.