ECA News

Children are inspiration for Spark a Future

Warm welcomes by a banker, doctor, veterinarian, chef, astronaut, and fire fighter helped raise more than $120,000 at the annual fundraiser for Early Childhood Alliance (ECA). These “professionals” were actually children in costumes, reflective of possible future careers, serving as inspiration for ECA’s event, Spark a Future: Invest in our Workforce. Among the 200 guests were many more professionals learning and having fun during an evening designed to help build better futures for young children, ECA’s mission.

Funds raised from the annual event support projects at ECA’s two Learning Centers in Fort Wayne along with a wide range of programs serving families across northern Indiana, which directly impact employers as well. ECA programs and services impact 40,000 children and their families annually.

While learning about the importance of early childhood education, guests also had some fun with a lively auction and games for vacation get-aways, jewelry and dining experiences. Top level sponsors were The James Foundation and Parkview Health.

ECA Learning Center Celebrates Quality Standards

Downtown Center - Exterior Corner View

Congratulations to ECA’s Downtown Learning Center, 516 E Wayne St, for earning accreditation status for another five years. In celebration, this dedicated staff was treated to a celebration lunch.

Accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the highest credential for an early childhood education program. NAEYC promotes high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research.

The reaccreditation process requires early learning programs to demonstrate their commitment to high quality early childhood education by completing onsite visits and thorough documentation that meet NAEYC’s stringent requirements for quality.

NAEYC accreditation is also a requirement for Level 4, Paths to QUALITY, Indiana’s quality rating and improvement system.

Applications are available for On My Way Pre-K

Know a four-year-old who is not in preschool? Now is the time to apply for free pre-kindergarten education for the 2019-2020 school year through On My Way Pre-K.

On My Way Pre-K is a state-funded program available in 20 Indiana counties* for four-year-olds of eligible families. Nearly 8,000 Hoosier children have attended preschool through a grant from the On My Way Pre-K program since it began in 2015. Allen County was one of the five original pilot counties. Early Childhood Alliance has two pre-k managers who work with On My Way Pre-K early learning programs.

Families must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • The family must have an income below 127 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • Their child must be 4 years old by August 1, 2019, and starting kindergarten in the 2020/2021 school year.
  • Parents/guardians in the household must be working, going to school or attending job training.

Links to electronic applications, in both English and Spanish, as well as a printable paper application, are available at

For more information, contact Early Childhood Alliance Pre-K managers:

*Allen, DeKalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Marshall, St. Joseph served by ECA in northern Indiana; also Jackson, Lake, Marion, Vanderburgh, Bartholomew, Delaware, Floyd, Grant, Harrison, Howard, Madison, Monroe, Tippecanoe and Vigo Counties.

Once a family has met eligibility requirements and has been awarded a grant for its child, the family may choose any of the eligible programs participating in the On My Way Pre-K program. Families can search approved providers at or call 1-800-299-1627, for assistance.

Early Childhood Alliance marks Week of the Young Child

Week of the Young Child Logo

If it’s spring, it’s time to celebrate Week of the Young Child, April 8-12. This annual celebration hosted by NAEYC (National Assoc. for the Education of Young Children) focuses on early learning, young children, early learning professionals, families and communities. This year NAEYC has designated the theme, Step It Up, to showcase the importance of high-quality early learning, and the critical role early childhood educators play in a child’s development and learning.

Celebrations come in all shapes and sizes across the country, organized by individual early learning programs and community organizations that provide programs and services to young children and their families. At Early Childhood Alliance Learning Centers, each day has been assigned a fun way to celebrate:

Photo Ops Early Childhood Alliance Learning Centers (April 8-12; 9-11 am)

  • Monday – wear purple
  • Tuesday – hat/sunglasses day
  • Wednesday – dress-up day
  • Thursday – crazy hair day
  • Friday – pajama/silly sock day

Early Childhood Alliance Selected

Vroom Logo

Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) is one of 10 Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) agencies selected nationally as a Vroom ambassador by Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA). Vroom is an initiative that encourages parents and caregivers, including early care and education professionals, to boost children’s early learning and development through tips and activities provided by CCAoA. Through technology, including an app and collaborations with other organizations, Vroom encourages families and caregivers to use routine interactions, like during bath time and grocery shopping, to engage with children, strengthening their brain architecture. Ambassadors will use the brain science of Vroom to help families and providers build stronger communities

Lanissa Maggert, ECA’s Family Engagement Coordinator, and Maricela Madden, ECA’s CCRR coordinator, are coordinating ECA’s Vroom program. “We continually share with parents that they are their children’s first and most influential teachers, so it’s critical they recognize the importance of early experiences on children’s brain development,” said Maggert. “Vroom is an easy-to-use tool to help parents nurture early learning.”

Parents and caregivers can sign up for Vroom by visiting

Child Care Aware® of America is our nation’s leading voice for child care. We work with state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) and other community partners to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, offer comprehensive training to child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate for child care policies that improve the lives of children and families. To learn more, visit Follow us on Twitter @USAChildcare and on Facebook at

Pedue Honored as Hoosier Educator of the Year

Karla Pedue

Karla Pedue, Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) educator, was awarded the 2019 Hoosier Educator Award at the Indiana AEYC Early Childhood Celebration recently. Awarded by the Indiana AEYC (Association for the Education of Young Children), this award recognizes an educator working in the preschool or early elementary field whose exemplary practices embody the practical application of Indiana AEYC standards and who shares those methods with others. Pedue, who joined ECA in 2015, is an instructor for the Child Development Associate credential for child care providers.

Karla Pedue

Training targets plant-based nutrition

More than 75 child care providers who are enrolled in the Child and Adult Care Food Program through Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) are registered for a training on plant-based nutrition on Saturday, March 9. The training will begin at 9 – 11:30 am, at The Summit (Rudisill Blvd), hosted by ECA and presented by Forward Food, a project of the HSUS, to encourage plant-based nutrition.

This training is one of several options for child care providers to obtain required training hours throughout the year to learn the latest best practices about meal planning and nutrition for young children. Trainers will focus on the Three Rs: “reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products with plant-based foods, and “refining” our diets. Presenters will be cooking on site in the Cook Spring kitchen at The Summit.

Image by congerdesign on Pixabay

ECA is a 2019 Fort4Fitness Charity Partner

ECA is excited to be a Charity Partner in this year’s Fort4Fitness events!

You can help support ECA’s mission of building better futures for young children by selecting Early Childhood Alliance as the “charity partner of your choice” when registering! If ECA is selected by 100+ participants during registration for an event, we will receive 10% of those registration fees.


Fort4Fitness 2019 Charity Partner

Step 1: Register Online

Visit and register for the Spring Cycle, Fall Festival, or both! There is a discounted rate if you choose the bundle option.

Step 2: Consider Pledging Additional Funds

You can support ECA in an even bigger way by asking friends and family to sponsor your participation through a pledge to ECA! Donations can quickly be made directly through our website:

Step 3: Have Fun!

We look forward to seeing you throughout the year!

Also, look out for us at the 4th Annual Fantasy of Lights 5K and 2K on November 16 and 17. More information to come!

Baker Elected to ROC

Madeleine Baker
Madeleine Baker

Madeleine Baker was recently elected as one of three at-large members of the Regional Opportunities Council (ROC), the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s investor board. The ROC drives the Regional Partnership’s Vision 2030 initiative with a focus on achieving three goals by 2030: increase per capita personal income to 90 percent of the national average; grow the region’s population to 1 million; and raise credential attainment to 60 percent. The ROC drives these goals by identifying, supporting and leading strategies that support business attraction, talent attraction, and talent development. ROC investors include the region’s top business leaders that live and work in 11 counties of northeast Indiana, comprised of representatives of business, government, higher-education, K-12 education, foundations, and non-profits.

ECA Welcomes New Staff

Brooklyn Disch

Brooklyn Disch recently joined Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) as executive administrative assistant.

Also new to the ECA staff are Jazzy Bergamo, Elizabeth Suwinski, and Chelsea Poindexter, teachers at ECA’s Beacon Learning Center.