City investing $25M to expand early childhood education

INDIANAPOLIS - A key part of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s plan to fight crime is to make high-quality early childhood education available to low-income families.

The city will invest $25 million over the next five years to expand preschool education programs throughout Marion County.

"Long-term those children who are in those programs have tremendous brain development, social development and all kinds of experiences that help build the foundations for them to stay in school longer. Kids who are exposed to those kinds of education programs are less likely to commit crimes, are less likely to rely on social programs and are more likely to be employed and stable members of the community," said Megan McKinney Cooper, director of development and marketing at Day Nursery.

Under the mayor's plan, current early education programs will expand across the city and 1,300 scholarships will be given to preschool-aged kids who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The city expects a dollar-for-dollar match through both state and private contributions. As for the city's part, that $25 million will come from eliminating the Local Homestead Tax Credit.

"Study after study after study shows that early childhood education has a positive effect on academic outcomes, socioeconomic outcomes for people and for health outcomes. And the benefit is not only to the individual child, it's to the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana and so we think this is actually going to save money in the long run," Deputy Mayor of Education Jason Kloth said.

Kloth said the city expects thousands of Marion County children to be impacted.

The loss of the local Homestead exemption will cost the average taxpayer about $22 a year.

The city will work with United Way and school districts to sign families up for the scholarships and the preschool programs.

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