Those BIG Little Years

What is the Early Years Initiative?

What is the Early Years Initiative?

A child’s earliest years of life, from birth through age 3, are a time of rapid brain development. During this time, infants and toddlers need nurturing connections that reinforce their well-being and strengthen their development — at home, in child care and in other community settings. Without supportive interactions and environments during this critical phase of growth, the brain does not optimally develop, leading to disparities in long-term learning, behavioral competency and health outcomes.

To make the most of these important, early years, Early Learning Indiana — with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc. — is pleased to announce the Early Years Initiative, a competitive grant opportunity for organizations to help infants and toddlers develop foundational knowledge and skills that support their future learning and development.

Early Years Initiative Approach

The aim of the Early Years Initiative is to help organizations in Indiana meet the developmental needs of infants and toddlers and surround Hoosier families with the resources to make the most of these crucial years of learning. All Early Years Initiative work is designed to strengthen foundational learning and development, but programs and projects can be as varied as the needs of the young children they are designed to serve. Programs or projects may include:

Strengthening families through home visiting and parent education programs

Ensuring access to supportive child care

Supporting the early detection of developmental needs or disabilities and implementation of responsive interventions

Promoting essential skills through early language strategies

The Early Years Initiative has a particular focus on infants and toddlers in low-income families, in families within communities of color and families where very young children are multi-language learners. 

The first Early Years Initiative grants were awarded in September 2023 and a second grant round is now open.

We only have a few short years to set our youngest Hoosiers on a path to thrive in life, and the work of these organizations across the state will enable us to make the most of these years while deepening our understanding about which efforts are most effective.