Eleven Programs to Expand Early Education Opportunities throughout Indiana

Early Learning Indiana Invests $470,000 to Serve 500 More Infants, Toddlers & Preschoolers

At the January meeting of Indiana’s Early Learning Advisory Committee, Early Learning Indiana announced that 11 programs, from Elkhart to Evansville, will receive a total of approximately $470,000 to expand high-quality early education opportunities throughout the state. Due to a strong applicant pool, Early Learning Indiana nearly doubled the proposed total investment to fund 11 high-quality programs. These funds will allow programs to serve more than 500 Hoosier infants, toddlers and preschool/pre-K students. In Indiana, two-thirds of young children live in families where all parents work.

lighttableinpreschoolclassroomlewiselementaryflickrThis expansion opportunity is made possible by a $20-million Lilly Endowment grant that funds Early Learning Indiana’s Partnerships for Early Learners‘ statewide campaign. The campaign aims to increase access to high-quality educational opportunities for Hoosier children from birth to five years old. The grantees will begin work in January 2016 and expand over the course of the coming year. Programs in Elkhart, Grant, Howard, Jackson, Jefferson, Lake, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Vanderburgh, and Vigo Counties will offer more children and families access to effective, engaging early childhood experiences, thanks to these funds. For a list of programs and their expansion goals, please see the list below.

“We know that early education is both a meaningful opportunity to support young learners and a critical support for working families,” said Ted Maple, Early Learning Indiana President and CEO. “By expanding opportunities to early education, these programs are ensuring that more children get a good educational start in programs that are committed to quality.”

In addition to funding early childhood education program expansion, six programs will take part in business training and addressing unique goals for growth. First Children’s Finance, a non-profit agency based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has supported early education programs for 25 years through tailored tools and training.

“First Children’s Finance will join forces with each participating program, providing tools and training to facilitate their unique goals for growth,” said Heidi Schlueter, a Director with First Children’s Finance. “We will also provide helpful resources, tools and guidance to strengthen sustainability.”

To further their stability, many of the 11 programs are also being considered for pre-K funding from Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning, through their Early Education Matching Grant (EEMG) initiative. Both the program expansion investments and First Children’s Finance’s supportive services are part of Partnerships for Early Learners’ goal of adding 1,000 high-quality, sustainable seats in Indiana’s early learning landscape.

Early Childhood Program Investments:

Elwood Elementary School – Madison County, Elwood
Facility improvements and classroom materials will add an additional 24 toddler seats. Funds will additionally support professional development for staff, expanded curricula, and developmental screening kits.

Marion Community Schools Little Giants Preschool – Grant County, Marion
Classroom materials will outfit four new pre-K classrooms with 115 new seats for 4-year-old students. Funds will also support professional development for teaching staff, including Creative Curricula training.

Maconaquah School Corp – Miami County, Peru
Classroom materials and instructional supports will support 16 new seats for pre-K.

Fuzzy Bear Ministry Preschool & Daycare – Montgomery County, Ladoga
Facility improvements, classroom supplies and educational materials Ministry will add 60 infant, toddler, and pre-K seats in Montgomery County.

Madison Consolidated Early Development Center – Jefferson County, Madison
Facility improvements will assist Madison Consolidated in reaching Level 4 on Paths to Quality as well as classroom materials to support the addition of 42 pre-K seats at two sites in Jefferson County.

Small World Learning Center – Vigo County, Terre Haute
Facility improvements and supplies will outfit a new classroom and serve 38 more toddlers and pre-K children.

Brownstown Christian Church Daycare Ministry – Jackson County, Brownstown
Facility improvements will create new classrooms for infants, toddlers, and pre-K children. Funds will also support the addition of 33 seats and classroom supplies to outfit the new configured classrooms.

Bona Vista Programs – Howard County, Kokomo
Facility improvements and classroom furnishings in order to add 20 additional seats for pre-K students. Funds will also support instructional supports for program teachers.

Gary Community School Corp/Mary McLeod Bethune Early Childhood Development Center – Lake County, Gary
Facility improvements will reopen three classrooms for 66 pre-K students. Additionally, funds will be utilized for Montessori instructional support training for program teachers.

Elkhart Community Schools – Elkhart County, Elkhart
Classroom materials will support the addition of 68 pre-K seats across three classrooms and two sites in Elkhart. Funds will additionally support professional development in Tools of the Mind Training.

Carver Daycare – Vanderburgh County, Evansville
Classroom supplies will outfit three currently unused rooms for new infant, toddler, and pre-K classrooms, adding a total of 38 seats.

Cover image by Flickr user Meriwether Lewis Elementary, Creative Commons license.