Partnership for Early Learners Campaign Aims to Improve Quality and Capacity for Indiana’s Children
INDIANAPOLIS – Early Learning Indiana launched a new, five-year plan to transform Indiana’s early learning landscape tonight, June 30 at The Platform in downtown Indianapolis. The plan, which frames the work of the Partnerships for Early Learners campaign, incorporates the input of a wide range of local, state, and national stakeholders. The campaign aims to renew efforts in five key strategy areas: Quality Improvement, Capacity Building, Workforce Development, Family Engagement, and Innovation and Leadership. By 2020, Partnerships for Early Learners aims to ensure that 75 percent of children in child care and early learning settings attend high-quality programs.
That 75 percent goal represents a major expansion of early learning opportunities. Today, just 35 percent of Hoosier children in formal preschool and child care attend high-quality programs that have achieved national accreditation or Level 3 or 4 on Indiana’s Paths to QUALITY™ rating system. Research shows that up to 85 percent of brain development happens between birth and Kindergarten, and attending a high-quality setting can nurture healthy growth and development. Families want programs with safe environments, trusted teachers, learning opportunities, and welcoming staff. In many Indiana communities, there are not enough high-quality programs to meet the demand. Meanwhile, 45 percent of families with young children live at or near poverty, and the average annual cost for a high-quality program can reach $10,000.
“We know that high-quality early learning is a powerful investment in our future,” said Ted Maple, President and CEO of Early Learning Indiana. “Effective early learning programs support school readiness, as well as allowing parents to be productive at work and families to thrive in their communities.”
The Partnerships for Early Learners campaign is supported by a five-year, $20 million grant from the Lilly Endowment. The investment aligns with increased supports from government, creating what Maple refers to as a “perfect storm” of opportunity to expand opportunities in Indiana. The state-funded On My Way Pre-K program is set to serve up to 2,000 children beginning in August. Additional investments from local communities including Indianapolis are allowing more families to put their children in high-quality settings. Volunteers and professionals from across the state have renewed their efforts to make early education a top priority.
The campaign’s strategic plans were created in collaboration with a range of local, state, and national organizations including the American Institutes of Research, Harvard Family Research Project, Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana Youth Institute, and Transform Consulting. Responses from over 800 surveys and interviews were collected. Strategic partners conducted an exhaustive review of proven approaches and emerging innovations from across the United States. Additional strategic input and partnership was provided by the 4C of Southern Indiana, Child Care Answers, Early Childhood Alliance, Early Learning Advisory Committee, Indiana Association for Child Care Resource and Referral, Indiana Department of Education, Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration’s Office of Early Education and Out of School Time, and Serve Indiana.
“Many people have been working on advancing early childhood for decades,” said Maple. “What is different now is momentum. We know that together we can take another giant step forward, and another and another, so that all children have a great start to school and life.”
To find out more about Early Learning Indiana’s Partnerships for Early Learners campaign, visit www.partnershipsforearlylearners.org, where visitors can download the 2015 Early Learning Needs Assessment and strategy plans.