Jump Start Preschool Program
Giving children high-quality educational experiences in their early years is vital. According to “Early Care and Education: The Economic Case,” the majority of brain growth occurs in the first five years of life, and that key time period cannot be replaced. Yet ironically, the least amount of public resources is applied to children during that time, so preschool opportunities are critical.
To help more Harrison County children receive high-quality early childhood education, the Harrison County Community Foundation has been funding Jump Start, a five-year pilot program that provides free, full-day preschool for income-eligible children in Harrison County, to enable the children to succeed in kindergarten and life. The children receiving free preschool make substantial progress throughout the school year.
Since the 2014-2015 school year, the Applied Research and Education Center (AREC) at Indiana University Southeast has released reports demonstrating the effectiveness of the Jump Start program. The reports describe the ISTAR-KR (state-approved Kindergarten Readiness) assessment results, which are compiled at the beginning, middle and end of each school year. The AREC has found that the preschool students in the Jump Start program make remarkable gains in reading and language development, math and quantitative reasoning development, and social and emotional development.
The AREC reports are linked below if you want to learn more about the impact of the Jump Start program. You can also call us at 812-738-6668 for more information about the program, how to qualify, and participating providers.
Results from Fiber Internet Expansion
As a former HCCF board member, Linda Burnham knows the importance of the foundation having money that is not restricted to a particular program or project in order to be flexible enough to meet ever-changing community needs. But last year that importance became personal. Thanks to the expansion of high-speed internet into the Elizabeth area, Linda’s son was able to begin telecommuting to work – in Atlanta, Georgia. Now Linda’s son and his family have moved back to the area and Linda is thrilled to have them living close again.
The fiber internet expansion, which is one of the largest projects HCCF has ever participated in, continued in 2019. The multi-million-dollar project was funded by a $3 million investment from HCCF, a $2 million investment from county government and an initial $10 million investment from Mainstream Fiber Networks (MSFN). The first goal was to place 115 miles of fiber optic cable “backbone” throughout the county. From this backbone, individual families and businesses would be able to access high-speed internet. At the end of 2019, 355 miles of cable had been placed.
The work is not over just because the initial goal is complete. MSFN is busy installing connections to homes and businesses, and the project partners are aware some areas of the county are still waiting for the opportunity. Work continues to secure easements and address geological issues.
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On My Way Pre-K
In addition to the Jump Start program, the On My Way Pre-K (OMWPK) program funded by Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration enables Harrison County 4-year-olds to receive free preschool. The OMWPK program also provides 53 weeks of free child care for the year the children are in preschool.
To participate in the OMWPK program, children must be four years old by Aug. 1, live in households at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and have parents/guardians who are working or attending school. Children’s families must apply online at onmywayprek.org.
What is the Harrison County
Town Planning Initiative?
The Harrison County Planning Initiative is a grassroots effort that aims to help each town in the county identify a strategic direction for their future. It was identified through the Harrison County Leadership Planning Initiative, and Harrison County Community Foundation (HCCF) realized the potential that could result from providing the resources for each town to dream big. This process starts at the local level and is driven by residents and businesses in each town – basically the people who know their town best!