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Early Learning Indiana Addresses Statewide Early Learning Access and Community Impact and Awards Over $1M to Organizations Statewide

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 26, 2022) — 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. 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. This impact is reflected in the 2022 update of its Closing the Gap: An Assessment of Indiana’s Early Learning Opportunities report, first released in 2021.  

The Closing the Gap report focuses attention on the relationship between the various factors contributing to early learning access across Indiana and provides communities with a side-by-side comparison of their local early learning supply and demand changes since the report’s development. Community stakeholders, leaders and early care providers can use the report findings to equip themselves with the data needed to make informed and deliberate choices in expanding access to high-quality child care in their communities. 

“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.  

The 15 grants impact 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. These recipients have proposed strategies to address a variety of community-level access issues, including providing high-quality early learning that meets families’ unique needs by offering care options that prioritize capacity for infants and toddlers, an early learning center partnering with Habitat for Humanity to ensure both affordable housing and child care, and creating an intergenerational model connecting early learners to seniors.   

2022 Grant recipients include:  

Notable report findings from 2021 to 2022 include: 

  • Indiana saw an increase in the statewide Early Learning Access Index 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. This represents an increase from 25.7% in 2021 to 28.4% in 2022. CEven 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. 

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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

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