CLOSING THE GAP

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 early care and education spots 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.

Early Learning Indiana has developed a methodology called the Early Learning Access Index 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, offer a more robust assessment of Hoosier families’ ability to access early learning opportunities that suit their needs. Since 2021, we’ve updated and analyzed this data annually, providing Indiana and individual communities with the information needed to better serve families and children.

2023 Report Update

The statewide Early Access Index has increased slightly over the last three years, from 60.6 in 2021 to 63.5 in 2023. Statewide access remains moderate, with variation at the county level ranging from 26.6 to 74.2. Read the full report below.

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.

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, and ensuring access is a community-wide issue. Stakeholders, community leaders and providers can use this report to:

Understand
your community’s
needs

Create opportunities
for action-focused conversations

Leverage local
funding to
support efforts

Your community can create targeted solutions to address child care access gaps. Consider these five questions: 

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

Want more information 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.