Essential Skills for Hoosier Child
Who We Are
Early Learning Indiana is on a mission to ensure every child is empowered with essential skills to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. We do this by operating high-quality early learning centers, helping families find quality child care, partnering with teachers and providers to improve program quality and advocating for greater access to early educational opportunities for all Hoosier families.
Rooted in a Rich History with Our Eyes on the Future
Early Learning Indiana is the state’s oldest and largest early childhood education nonprofit. For more than 100 years, Early Learning Indiana was known as Day Nursery. Under that name, we spent more than a century building a reputation as central Indiana’s standard-bearer for excellent child care.
The King’s Daughters Society founded Day Nursery in 1899 to provide child care for working mothers at a time when such services were scarce. Over the next several decades, Day Nursery grew and changed significantly.
Day Nursery has long enjoyed great support from Day Nursery Auxiliary. The Auxiliary’s mission, then and now, was to raise money for the organization, provide volunteer services to its centers and promote its work to the community.
In 1985, Day Nursery began providing support and training for family child care home providers. It also instituted a resource and referral service for parents. Together these services, managed and operated by the Day Nursery Association, became collectively known as Child Care Answers.
As Day Nursery continued to grow, it added new locations throughout the city. By 2013, Day Nursery operated eight child care centers in Indianapolis and was widely regarded as the area’s most reputable and qualified nonprofit child care provider.
Day Nursery changed its name to Early Learning Indiana in 2014 and rebranded the child care centers as Day Early Learning centers. As Early Learning Indiana, our goal is to continue being the area’s best source for child care services and resources, while embracing a larger role as an advocate and leading voice for early childhood education in Indiana. Early Learning Indiana’s board of directors officially changed the organization’s mission to reflect a statewide focus.
Building on the organization’s new statewide focus, in late 2014, Early Learning Indiana received a $20 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to expand access and improve early childhood education quality across the state through a new initiative called Partnerships for Early Learners. The grant supports quality improvement, capacity-building, workforce development, family engagement and innovation and leadership efforts statewide.
In partnership with the United Way of Central Indiana, Early Learning Indiana helped create and launch All IN 4 Pre-K, a new coalition of families, community advocates and business leaders working together to expand access to high-quality pre-K in Indiana.
With generous support from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Early Learning Indiana begins developing a competency-based early childhood workforce preparation program for teachers and classroom support roles that combines high-quality direct instruction with tailored, work-based learning opportunities. The program will decrease time to competency for teachers, enhance the effectiveness of teacher preparation, improve teacher compensation and help solve the workforce challenges facing the early childhood education sector.
In February 2020, Lilly Endowment Inc. renewed its commitment to Early Learning Indiana’s mission through a $15 million grant. The grant will help fund efforts to support the growth and sustainability of high-quality programs; expand programs’ participation in the state’s quality rating and improvement system; strengthen the early learning workforce through innovative models and partnerships; and create shared services to reduce persistent structural challenges within the early childhood system.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Indiana and many providers closed, Early Learning Indiana opened its doors wider to serve the children of emergency responders and front-line, essential workers. With the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc., Early Learning Indiana launched the $15 million Come Back Stronger Fund and helped 1,025 early learning providers safely operate and re-open during the pandemic.
Early Learning Indiana becomes the first early childhood education provider to use a supply-first model backed by intelligent design with a data-driven approach. The new platform helps Early Learning Indiana create an effortless experience for the families it serves while also streamlining operations for its Day Early Learning lab schools.
As part of its efforts to reduce barriers to early childhood education access, Early Learning Indiana launched Early Learning Works in late 2020. Early Learning Works provides child care solutions to meet the unique needs of employers and their employees to help reduce turnover and absenteeism, increase productivity and better recruit skilled employees.
Being an Early Childhood Education Leader Starts with Great Leadership
Early Learning Indiana is driven by individuals with decades of experience in early childhood education policy, practice and organizational leadership.
From our most senior leaders to our administrative team, all Early Learning Indiana team members are driven by a shared passion for our mission to ensure every child is empowered with the essential skills to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.
Early Learning Indiana Board of Directors
Early Learning Indiana’s Board of Directors come from our state’s top public, private and philanthropic organizations, lending their wisdom, passion and dedication to Early Learning Indiana’s mission and success.
PNC Financial Services
First Merchants Bank
Eli Lilly and Company
National Bank of Indianapolis
Day Nursery Auxiliary
Department of Health
Barnes & Thornberg, LLP
Our Center Leaders
Our Day Early Learning lab schools operate under an incredible team of experienced early childhood education leaders.
Join Our Team
Do you have a passion for expanding access to high-quality early care and learning and ensuring every child is empowered with essential skills for success in kindergarten and beyond?
Early Learning Indiana provides leadership, advocacy and early childhood education services to continually improve the early learning landscape in Indiana. Four key priorities drive our work.