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Early Learning Indiana’s Top 20 of 2020

As we begin a new (and brighter) year, we take a moment to look back on the many highlights and accomplishments from 2020. In Early Learning Indiana’s more than a century of service, this will go down as the year our work mattered most. Thank you for the support that made this year possible.

  • Come Back Stronger Fund – Lilly Endowment Inc.
    • To help reinforce Indiana’s supply of high-quality early learning opportunities, especially for the most vulnerable children, ELI launched the Come Back Stronger Fund in May. ELI awarded over $13.1 million to 1,025 early care and learning providers who serve over 45,300 Hoosier children. A second round of grants will open in January 2021, which will increase the total amount awarded to $25 million.
  • Let’s Get Back to Work Campaign – State of Indiana
    • ELI designed a dual-purpose campaign to help parents and child care providers get back to work. Through an animated video, social media content and web resources, the campaign helped ease parents’ concerns and fears about returning to child care and equipped providers with safety tools and resources to offer safe, continued care. Other states took notice and many used Indiana’s campaign as inspiration for their own statewide campaigns. 
  • Support for Our COVID-19 EffortsUnited Way of Central Indiana, PNC, The Glick Foundation, Women’s Fund
    • ELI was grateful to receive generous grants from numerous community organizations and partners to support our COVID-19 relief efforts, including care for the children of essential workers and professional development opportunities for our teachers during the height of the stay-at-home order.
  • The Day Nursery Auxiliary Went Virtual
    • For the first time, the Auxiliary hosted their engagements virtually, conducting all meetings, the annual Fall Style Show and their special Christmas tree at the Indiana Historical Society online. The virtual events proved successful, raising over $22,000 for children in ELI’s Day Early Learning centers. 
  • Modernized our Operations – Lilly Endowment Inc.
    • ELI became the first early childhood education provider to use Salesforce and employ a supply-first, data-driven model backed by intelligent design. We’ve created a more effortless experience to onboard new families while also streamlining operations for our Day Early Learning centers.
  • Day of Impact – Side Street Catering, Goelzer Investment Management, Citizens Energy Group and many more
    • Despite the pandemic, we held our 2nd Annual Day of Impact on Oct. 23. This year, 73 volunteers came together to plant trees and complete outdoor projects across our eight centers. At a safe social distance, our volunteers laid 25 cubic yards of mulch, planted 22 trees, assembled three playground structures, weeded gardens, installed playground equipment and flooring. We raised over $23,000 to support our mission and purchase toys, books and classroom furniture to ensure our children are receiving the best early education experience.
  • Early Learning Educator Solutions – Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Lilly Endowment Inc., United Way of Central Indiana
    • ELI launched Early Learning Educator Solutions, a competency-based, job-embedded early childhood workforce preparation program for teachers and classroom support roles. The program aims to decrease time to competency for teachers, enhance the effectiveness of teacher preparation, improve teacher compensation and help solve the workforce challenges facing the early childhood education sector. The program designed to train classroom support professionals will launch its first cohort in early 2021.
  • Employer Child Care Solution
    • As part of our efforts to reduce barriers to accessing high-quality child care, ELI launched Early Learning Works in late 2020. Through Early Learning Works, ELI partners with employers to provide child care solutions that meet the needs of their employees and helps to reduce turnover, absenteeism, increase productivity and better recruit skilled employees.
  • Expansion at DEL Lilly Family Center – United Way of Central Indiana, Matthew L. Tully Memorial Foundation and Kohl’s Cares for Kids
    • The DEL Lilly Family Center can now serve an additional eight infants a year thanks to a new infant classroom. In August, construction began to divide an oversized room into two. Infant care is in high demand, and we’re pleased to be able to serve more families. 
  • Support for Essential Workers
    • When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Indiana and many providers closed, ELI worked closely with government officials, city leaders and other organizations to assist with the critically important work of caring for the children of essential workers. We opened our doors wider and quickly created a safe place for these children to continue to grow and thrive, uninhibited by the challenges facing the world around them. 
  • Pop-Up Care Camp
    • A “School’s Out Camp” at IU Health provided emergency child care to school-age children early in the pandemic. At the same time, ELI adjusted Day Early Learning center operations to care for the school-aged children of DEL team members, lowering the level of exposure for their families. Over the course of three months, ELI served 48 children for 1,048 total days of care.
  • Early Learning Indiana Brand Refresh
    • In our second century of service, we took the opportunity to get clearer on our mission and goals for our next 120 years. In November, we launched a new website with an updated look and a new mission statement: to ensure children throughout Indiana are empowered with essential skills to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.
  • A Stronger Brand for Indiana’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network – State of Indiana
    • In an effort to strengthen the identity of our state’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network and the five agencies therein, ELI helped design and launch a refreshed brand for the CCR&R Network. The new key messaging and visual branding provides consistency across communities served, making it easier for families to quickly identify services and connect to needed resources. 
  • Strengthening the Workforce While Staying Home  – Lilly Endowment Inc.
    • ELI helped childhood education professionals across the state make the most of their “stay at home” time by earning their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. In the spring, ELI launched a Fast-track Online CDA program, offered at no cost to participants. To date, 175 individuals have completed the online coursework. With a CDA credential, these participants will advance their careers and increase their impact on children and the greater early childhood education sector in our state.
  • New Assessments for Learning Success
    • We launched two new assessments in 2020 aimed at improving learning outcomes. Lead teachers were trained to use TS GOLD, an assessment tool that tracks growth and development for each child. Additionally, new CLASS assessments provide research-driven insights to improve how teachers themselves interact with children to cultivate supportive and engaging classroom experiences. 
  • New Health and Safety Measures at Day Early Learning Centers
    • ELI quickly adjusted DEL operations this year and is now safely serving over 600 children across its centers each day. Colorful signage greets children each morning for temperature checks and health screenings. We’ve increased sanitation and do a daily deep cleaning of each center. Children ages 2 and older wear face masks – many sewn by Auxiliary members – and they’re learning about germs and good handwashing with helpful reminders from our “friendly” COVID bug.
  • Stronger Together Grant Program – Lilly Endowment Inc.
    • For early care and education providers, balancing operational demands with what matters most – supporting children’s growth and development – is a constant challenge. In December, ELI announced Stronger Together, an upcoming grant program to foster regional shared service hubs to influence the affordability of care and enable providers to focus their scarce time and resources on the business of learning.
  • Staying Connected with DEL Families
    • To help meet the needs of our Day Early Learning families – and to help with social distancing – ELI offered families the option to stay home and still retain their seat. Since March, families have utilized nearly 10,000 free vacation credits. We’re proud to have been able to support families in this way.
  • Mental Health Supports for Our Team Members
    • While our team rolled up their sleeves to serve essential workers during the pandemic, we made sure not to lose sight of their own mental and emotional health needs. Confidential personal and professional coaching was made available to all ELI team members to help them create better stress management techniques and find ways to approach each day with more confidence. 58 team members participated in a total of 144 sessions.
  • The State of Early Childhood Education

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