An Assessment of Indiana's Early Learning Opportunities

Access to early learning programs has historically been reduced to a quantifiable analysis of supply and demand. These studies are useful in determining whether there are enough spots in early care and education programs to meet the perceived demand within a given geographic boundary. Where they fall short, however, is in qualifying how well the supply meets the needs of the population, beyond simply ensuring there are enough seats for children who may be in need.

We have developed a new methodology, the Early Learning Access Index, that attempts to both qualify and quantify child care access throughout Indiana. This method moves away from viewing access as simply a capacity supply and demand equation and layers in the additional components of quality, affordability and choice. These four elements, viewed in context with one another, updated and analyzed annually, offer a more robust assessment of Hoosier families’ ability to access early learning opportunities that suit their needs.

How to Use This Report

High-quality early care and learning helps children develop the essential skills they need to thrive in kindergarten and beyond. Ensuring access to this care and education is a community-wide issue. Stakeholders, community leaders and providers can use this report to:


your community’s

Create opportunities
for action-focused conversations

Leverage local
funding to
support efforts


Your community can create targeted solutions to address local child care access gaps. The challenge is great, but the opportunity to build a system of more equitable access for Hoosier children is greater. Consider these five questions: 

Where is your community’s greatest need right now?
How can you ensure affordability of care for families?
Which element of choice is impacting your community the most?
Are the right stakeholders gathered to make decisions to support increased access in your community?
What steps can you take right now to start the conversation?

Interactive Map

Press the blue information icon in the top right of the map for more information on each map. You can navigate between maps by swiping left or right on the chapter name below the map (or using the blue arrows, if applicable). You can also select a map by pressing the chapters icon in the top left of the map.

Want more info on Closing the Gap?

Looking to explore Closing the Gap more deeply in your community or state? Early Learning Indiana would be happy to partner with you.

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