Published: 11/07/2022 @ 08:20 am
Early Learning Indiana today awarded a $54,000 grant to Early Childhood Alliance as part of the $1 million Closing the Gap grant fund to address local child care access issues, increase capacity and quality, and ensure affordability and choice for families. The grant fund was established alongside Early Learning Indiana’s inaugural release of “Closing the Gap: An Assessment of Indiana’s Early Learning Opportunities”. The 2022 report update and insights demonstrate that Indiana has experienced slight improvement in both overall capacity and high-quality early care and education capacity but these gains are threatened by workforce shortages and the rising cost of child care.
“Our report confirms that we are making slow, but steady, progress in expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities,” said Maureen Weber, president and CEO of Early Learning Indiana. “Even as this work continues in communities across Indiana, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that every early learning classroom has an effective teacher and that families in need can afford the cost of care.”
The report analysis centers around Early Learning Indiana’s Early Learning Access Index methodology and the change in child care access statewide over the course of a year. This unique index assesses child care availability for families in need of care as well as program quality, affordability and choice. To improve families’ access to care and boost local solutions, Early Learning Indiana, with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., is awarding over $1M in grants for organizations to close the gap in their communities.
Grant recipients submitted applications outlining how they would address their community’s biggest child care access issues. The 15 grant recipients represent 14 unique counties in Indiana. In total, their proposals will create 563 new child care seats for 233 infants and toddlers and 330 preschool and pre-K children.
Early Childhood Alliance will divide the grant between two locations. For its Downtown Learning Program in Fort Wayne, $31,500 will be used to create a new young preschool classroom. For further updates and renovations around Warsaw’s new IMD Early Learning childcare home, which is operated by Early Childhood Alliance, $22,500 will be used.
“So many families with young children are struggling to find affordable, high-quality early learning programs,” shared Early Childhood Alliance CEO Amber Targgart, Ed.D. “This funding will help more families with young preschool children receive care and education at our Downtown Learning Program in Fort Wayne. This grant will also help us continue renovations at IMD Early Learning, which is a beautiful new child care home in Warsaw, Indiana, owned by Instrumental Machine and Development, and operated by Early Childhood Alliance. We are beyond excited to open this home in the near future and serve children and families in Kosciusko County.”
Notable report findings from 2021 to 2022 include:
• According to the workforce study recently commissioned by Early Learning Indiana, the child care industry has lost about 9% of jobs post-pandemic, compared to pre-pandemic.
• Indiana saw an increase in the statewide Early Learning Access Index (which is comprised of the components of capacity, quality, affordability and choice) from 60.6 to 62.2 out of 100, equaling moderate access to early learning and care statewide.
• Counties with the most growth are Sullivan (+17.2), Grant (+17.0), Brown (+16.6), Jefferson (+13.6) and Wabash (+12.6).
• The Capacity Sufficiency Rate, (CSR) represents the percentage of children who may need care in an area that can be served through existing local capacity in that same area. – increased from 55.5% to 61.2%.
• Over 70% of Hoosier children ages 0-5 do not have access to high-quality care and education. The percentage of children who may need care that can be served through existing high-quality capacity increased from 25.7% to 28.4%.
• Even the counties with the most high-quality capacity can still only serve fewer than 50% of children ages 0-5 who may need care.
• The number of counties with no high-quality infant/toddler care decreased from 14 counties in 2021 to 5 in 2022.
Early Childhood Alliance is a nonprofit committed to building better futures for young children by promoting and providing quality early childhood education and services for families, early childhood professionals, and the community. Caring for children for nearly 70 years, Early Childhood Alliance serves northern Indiana through a range of family engagement services, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, early childhood care and education programs, corporate consultation, and advocacy.
About Early Learning Indiana
Early Learning Indiana is Indiana’s oldest and largest early childhood education nonprofit, providing leadership, advocacy and early childhood education services to continually improve the early learning landscape in Indiana. Today, Early Learning Indiana operates 11 high-quality Day Early Learning centers, a network of premier community-based schools used to advance the science of early learning, train the next generation of teachers and leaders, and instill essential skills in the children we serve. Through regional and statewide programs, the organization enables early learning providers to build capacity, transform operations and improve learning outcomes. Learn more at EarlyLearningIndiana.org.