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Early Learning Nonprofit Opens Statewide Competition To Address ‘Childcare Deserts’

A young child plays in a bouncy thing.

(Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

A grant competition from the state’s largest early learning nonprofit aims to address so-called child care deserts. The group will offer up to $1 million of funding for at least 10 recipients, to improve access to high-quality early education services.

Data from the nonprofit Early Learning Indiana shows more than 45 percent of Hoosier children live in a child care desert. The group defines child care deserts as places with no more than one child care seat for every three children. 

President and CEO Maureen Weber says the grant competition should spur creativity and collaboration, because solving access issues takes multiple stakeholders.

“We know there’s a role for businesses to play, there’s a role for the early learning community itself, and there’s a role for public funding and the state and local government to play as well,” she says. 

Each recipient will receive up to $100,000. Weber says sustainability is an important part of the proposals. She says it will ensure access improves for the long term, because care is expensive for families, as well as for providers.

“That’s part of why we require all of those different people around the table as well, so that there are people in that community that will support and nurture that investment over time,” she says. 

Weber says local groups can also apply for other grants focused on smoothing the transition to kindergarten for young learners, and improving care for infants and toddlers. Early Learning Indiana will accept preliminary proposals until Sept. 13.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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