Indiana is awarding Pre-K providers over $1.5 million in grants in an effort to increase the quality of, and access to early learning programs across the state.

The grant money, being administered by the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), will be used to train staff, develop materials and curriculum, as well as host parent engagement events.

In a recent WBAA-FM interview, FSSA spokesperson Marni Lemons commented on the importance of quality. “We really encourage parents to pay attention to Paths to Quality when they’re trying to determine where to send their children, even infants and toddlers, before they’re old enough to enter a pre-K program.”

States across the nation use Quality and Improvement Rating Systems (QIRS), such as Indiana’s Paths to Quality program to help families determine what level of quality their provider has achieved. Not only does this rating act as a validator for quality programs, but also incentivizes programs to achiever higher levels of quality and success.

High-quality early learning is critical for school readiness. The overwhelming evidence shows that children who enter kindergarten behind are likely remain behind throughout their educational careers and beyond. These gaps in achievement are difficult and expensive to close with K-12 education alone—and can last a lifetime, particularly for disadvantaged children. Investing in high-quality care in a child’s first five years ensures they develop the skills necessary for learning, decreasing the need to invest in costly interventions later in life.

Read more from WBAA online here.