Child literacy, childcare among top priorities for state senators this session

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Rounding out an opening week where lawmakers show their hands on what they want to accomplish this legislative session, Senate Republicans and Democrats have laid out their agendas for the session.
It what seems to be the overarching issue of the session, child care is a top priority for both sides of the aisle in the upper chamber at the Statehouse.
Both sides have crafted legislation to tackle Indiana’s falling literacy rates among third graders, but Republicans feel their bill, Senate Bill 1, will be the ticket to doing so.
Among its requirements would be to have schools give the IREAD exam to second graders and to track a student’s progress towards taking it starting in kindergarten. If a student were to pass the test in the second grade they would not have to take it again in third grade. Once in third grade students would have three shots to pass the test or risk being held back.
“Some might say that retention is not good for the child, but what isn’t good is to move students on without foundational reading skills,” said State Sen Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond). “To send these students on through school without the ability to read sets them up to struggle throughout their education and potentially the rest of their lives.”
For Democrats, childcare is also a big priority. They say there are many parts of the state where access to child care is non-existent. State Sen. Shelli Yoder referred to these areas as “childcare deserts.”
“We will be pushing for expanded eligibility for child care, increased support for providers, and the adoption of a universal pre-K program and proper funding to support a child care system that Hoosiers deserve,” Yoder said.
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) also has priorities for expanding access to child care in Indiana with a bill he has filed. It would establish a pilot program that would expand the criteria for people to be early childhood care providers. He said this would be especially beneficial in rural areas.
“It’s going to make a difference for child care, for parents of children, and for employers in the state of Indiana.
Democrats are also proposing caps on the prices of prescription drugs, property tax credits, and to allow ballot referendums.
The deadline to file bills for consideration this session in the Indiana House was on Thursday. The same deadline hit earlier this week in the State Senate.

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