On November 30, 2021, Early Learning Indiana awarded a $100,000 grant to the Greene County Foundation as part of the $1.7 million Closing the Gap grant fund to address local child care access issues, increasing capacity and quality and ensuring affordability and choice for families.
The grant fund was established after Early Learning Indiana released “Closing the Gap: An Assessment of Indiana’s Early Learning Opportunities” in August 2021. The report shed light on the child care access issues facing Indiana families.
“The challenge is great, but the opportunity to build a system of more equitable access for
Hoosier children is even greater,” said Maureen Weber, president and CEO of Early Learning
Indiana. “Our Closing the Gap grant recipients have put together collaborative solutions to solve some of the greatest barriers to access to high-quality early learning in their communities, and we are proud to help kick start their work.”
Grant recipients submitted applications outlining how they would address their community’s biggest child care access issues. The Foundation’s $100,000 grant will support the expansion of an early childhood coalition within Greene County, help local daycare and preschool providers advance through Indiana’s Paths to Quality program through participation in the Foundation’s cohort program, and fund capital projects and staffing at White River Valley Elementary, allowing them to open a new after-school program for preschoolers in fall 2022.
“We have worked very hard to continue to offer a quality pre-kindergarten program to our community through Pathways to Quality Level 3 programming,” said White River Valley Superintendent Dr. Bob Hacker. “This grant will help us to grow that program for our families. Our last two principals, currently Mrs. Guthrie and originally Mrs. Staggs, and Mrs. Liz Tharp, our Pre-K teacher, have really concentrated on certifying our program. The Board of Education believes that kids benefit from having quality licensed personnel and programs. We appreciate working with the GCCF on this project.”
“Investing in child care and early education has clear benefits for Greene County children and families today, but we also know that these investments will pay dividends for years to come,” said Sherri Kneriem of the Greene County Foundation. “We are grateful for this funding from Early Learning Indiana, which will significantly expand our capacity to support our dedicated local daycare and preschool providers.”
Early Learning Indiana’s Closing the Gap report centered around the Early Learning Access Index, which helped qualify and quantify child care access throughout the state, assessing the additional factors of quality, affordability and choice as well.
Notable findings of the report included:
• The statewide Early Learning Access Index is 60.6 out of 100, equaling moderate access to early learning and care statewide. In Greene County, the Early Learning Access Index is 35.8.
• In more than two-thirds of Indiana counties, existing child care capacity can serve fewer than half the children ages 0-5 who need care.
• 14 counties have no high-quality infant/toddler care.
The 18 grant recipients represent 18 unique counties in Indiana. In total, their proposals will create 926 new child care seats for 269 infants and toddlers and 657 preschool and pre-K children.
The funding was made possible through a 2019 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support
Early Learning Indiana’s statewide work to improve access to high-quality early learning programs in Indiana.
About the Greene County Foundation
The Greene County Foundation exists for charitable individuals to leave a lasting legacy to the community they love. Through the establishment of endowments, donors can support the local causes that are important to them for generations to come. The Greene County Foundation has had a charitable impact in every school, library, and community in Greene County and annually awards over a quarter-million dollars in grants through fund payouts, competitive grants, and student scholarships. For more information, visit greenecountyfoundation.org or call (812) 659-3142.
About Early Learning Indiana
Early Learning Indiana is Indiana’s oldest and largest early childhood education nonprofit, providing leadership, advocacy and early childhood education services to continually improve the early learning landscape in Indiana. Today, Early Learning Indiana operates 10 high-quality Day Early Learning Centers, a network of premier community-based schools used to advance the science of early learning, train the next generation of teachers and leaders, and instill essential skills in the children we serve. Through regional and statewide programs, the organization enables early learning providers to build capacity, transform operations and improve learning outcomes. Learn more at EarlyLearningIndiana.org.
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