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History

For more than half a century, Early Childhood Alliance has been providing programs and services to meet the needs of families and children, first in Fort Wayne/Allen County, and now across northern Indiana. Today, Early Childhood Alliance is recognized as a leader in the early care and education field. We are proud of our heritage and are positioned to continue in our leadership role in northern Indiana.

Pre 1960s

  • 1941 - Westside Neighborhood Center formed with a board of 24 members
  • 1953 - Incorporated and joined the Fort Wayne Community Chest (United Way of Allen County)
  • 1957 - Organization's first day care center was built in a public housing development serving low income families

1960s-1980s

  • 1963 - Name changed to Neighbors, Inc. to reflect the services, such as outreach and assistance to older adults, large families and young married students with pre-school children
  • 1969 - Organization changed its focus to child care 
  • 1971 - Renamed Child Care of Allen County. Within three years, the organization operated four child care centers and received government funding for low-income families to attend.
  • 1979 – Approached by the State of Indiana to sponsor the food program for family child care homes, a service which continues today as the Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
  • 1970s/1980s - Managed as many as six child care centers at once
  • 1984 - Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) service began in 11 counties

1990s

  • Several new programs were added or expanded: Parents as Teachers, Professional Training, Mentoring and Corporate Consultation
  • Training department began offering classes for the Child Development Associate certification, a new educational requirement for early childhood teachers
  • 1997 - Name changed to Early Childhood Alliance as services for children, parents, teachers and employees were offered
  • 1998 - Learning Centers achieved accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

2000s

  • 2000 –Downtown Learning Center was built after a $2 million campaign. The Learning Centers were then consolidated from six to three locations: north at Gethsemane Church, downtown on Wayne Street and southeast on Turtle Creek Drive.
  • 2003 - Book Buddies literacy program was launched
  • 2004 - Better Baby Care and Inclusion Specialists were added to CCRR staff
  • 2005 - Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) service achieved national accreditation, Indiana's first; ECA's CCR&R service region included Allen, DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben and Whitley Counties.
  • Consulted with Lutheran Social Services and Lutheran Retirement Homes to create the community's first intergenerational child care program, Children’s Village, on the campus of Lutheran Homes on the southeast side of Fort Wayne. 
  • 2007 - Downtown Learning Center achieved High Scope accreditation serving as a demonstration site for the HighScope curriculum 
  • After-school program began at the Downtown Learning Center
  • Paths to QUALITY (created by a local partnership, including ECA) was adopted by the State of Indiana as the quality rating and improvement system for Indiana child care programs
  • 2010 – Became partner with Parkview Health to manage Parkview's child care center on Beacon Street
  • 2012 - Added four counties to service delivery area when state reduced the number of CCR&R service regions from 11 to 9. The addition of Elkhart, Kosciusko, Marshall, and St. Joseph Counties expanded ECA’s region to 10 counties.
  • 2014-15 – Learning Centers became providers for On My Way PreK, Indiana’s pilot program for state-supported preschool
  • 2014 – Named a strategic partner with Early Learning Indiana, Child Care Answers, and 4C’s of Southern Indiana to strengthen child care, preschool and family engagement across the state through a Lilly Endowment grant of $20 million.