Early Learning Indiana and Early Childhood Leaders Join Efforts

Leading Early Childhood Organizations in Evansville, Ft. Wayne and Indianapolis Partner to Strengthen Care and Education for Young Children
Early Learning Indiana and three leading early childhood organizations in Evansville (4C of Southern Indiana), Ft. Wayne (Early Childhood Alliance) and Indianapolis (Child Care Answers) have joined efforts to strengthen child care, preschool and family engagement across the state. The alliance will help to coordinate the most efficient and effective use of $20 million in early childhood resources recently granted by the Lilly Endowment to Early Learning Indiana.

ELI106-PartnershipsforEL+ELI Full Logo Color_050815_FINALOver the next five years, the Lilly Endowment-funded initiative, Partnerships for Early Learners, will improve the quality of early childhood programs across the state and expand access for young children who need it most. Some of the focus areas of the grant are strengthening classroom environments, promoting curriculum use, better engaging families and improving teacher training. The grant will also support the creation of 1,000 new, high-quality early childhood seats for children and innovative pilot programs.

“We know partnership is the best way to improve and expand educational opportunities for our youngest children,” said Ted Maple, President and CEO of Early Learning Indiana. “This alliance of expertise from the north, central and southern parts of Indiana is just the first example of our commitment to investing in local expertise and capacity.”

The three partners are all long-standing child care resource and referral agencies (CCR&R’s), part of a network of organizations across the state, primarily funded by Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. Each has extensive programming to help parents find and access child care, train early childhood professionals, improve the quality of early childhood programs through coaching and engage families and other community stakeholders. Child Care Answers is an independent operating unit of Early Learning Indiana.

“The ambitious goals of this initiative are well-aligned with 4C’s mission to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of early child care and education,” said Jennifer Drake, President and CEO of 4C of Southern Indiana. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to impact more children by joining Early Learning Indiana and Early Childhood Alliance in strategic partnership. Together, we can more effectively build on strengths, address gaps and create sustainable improvements for the benefit of children, families and early care professionals across our state.”

“This level of partnership opens opportunities to address critical early education challenges in strategic ways, not only collaborating with other agencies throughout communities across northern Indiana, but also building awareness among legislators, and establishing the relevance of early care and education in the business community,” said Madeleine Baker, CEO of Early Childhood Alliance in Fort Wayne. “This Lilly Endowment investment in early childhood education has a direct impact on the state’s economic growth and sustainability, now and in the future.”

Among the group’s top initial priorities will be to support greater family engagement in the state’s pre-K pilot, On My Way Pre-K, through a proposed AmeriCorps program. The proposed program would embed AmeriCorps service members in participating pre-K sites to support daily engagement of families in their children’s education. The partners will also collaborate to help more child care ministries become voluntarily certified by the state of Indiana and advance along a state-supported quality initiative called Paths to QUALITY. Supporting more early childhood programs, whether in ministries, child care centers, child care homes or schools, to advance on Paths to QUALITY is a priority of each partner.

“More and more families, lawmakers, and other stakeholders are realizing that investments in early learning increase the odds of a child succeeding in school and transitioning successfully to adulthood,” said Mindy Bennett, Program Director of Child Care Answers. “We are excited to build upon our existing partnerships with organizations like United Way of Central Indiana and look forward to learning from our partners in Evansville and Ft. Wayne.”


About Early Learning Indiana
Early Learning Indiana’s mission is to assure the highest level of early childhood education for children in Indiana. We operate top-rated centers, partner with families, educate early childhood professionals and help other programs become an even better and more trusted community resource. Learn more: www.earlylearningindiana.org

About 4C of Southern Indiana
4C’s mission is to engage the community and provide a leading voice to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of early child care and education. 4C provides Child Care Resource and Referral and Child Care Development Fund Intake services to fourteen counties in southwest Indiana, and manages the Southwest Indiana Future Fund. Learn more: www.child-care.org

About Child Care Answers
Child Care Answers is an independent operating unit of Early Learning Indiana and Central Indiana’s Child Care Resource and Referral agency. Since 1985, Child Care Answers has helped families secure child care, train early childhood professionals and coach other child care providers. Child Care Answers’ vision is to ensure that the children of today and tomorrow are cared for in a professional and nurturing manner. Learn more: www.childcareanswers.com

About Early Childhood Alliance
Founded more than 60 years ago, Early Childhood Alliance builds better futures for young children, birth to school age. Early Childhood Alliance is a key resource across 10 northern Indiana counties, working directly with families and early childhood professionals, as well as collaborating with regional organizations and the business community to promote quality early childhood education and services for all children. Learn more: www.ecalliance.org