They also resist more regulation, having already turned back efforts to increase state standards for those daycare centers — now largely unregulated — that accept federal vouchers to cover preschool costs for some low-income Hoosier children.
Preschool providers say they see the value of programs that focus on preparing children with academic and social skills needed to be kindergarten-ready.
“We aren’t just providing a learning environment for the children,” said Connie Hire, director of the Union Hospital Child Development Center in Terre Haute, a top-rated program. “We spend a lot of time with parents, helping them understand how and what their children are learning at this age.”
Proponents of publicly funded preschool must also convince some reluctant legislators that providing such early education should be part of the government’s role. The General Assembly has resisted efforts to lower the mandatory school age of 7.
“As a parent, it’s my responsibility to provide my child with the early education to prepare them for school — not the state’s,” said Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, a former school principal who’s opposed Pence’s preschool plan.
“The government should never try to take the role of a parent unless they’re forced to do it,” he said. “And in this case, I’m not sure it’s our role.”