After many years of leadership at the Indiana Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning, Melanie Brizzi is moving on to a new opportunity. As Director of the Office, Melanie oversaw many early childhood initiatives and partnerships across Indiana. Our state has taken several steps forward in its service to young children and their families. This is due, in large part, to Melanie’s leadership and willingness to think big and engage in new kinds of partnerships and collaborations to achieve outcomes for children.
I had the opportunity to work with Melanie, starting with my time as Director of Success By 6 at United Way of Central Indiana and continuing on as CEO of Early Learning Indiana. In the time that I have known Melanie, I have witnessed a toughness and selflessness that we all hope for in our public servants. As a result, things got done. Some of these things include:
- Child Care Resource and Referral – Indiana’s system of child care resource and referral (CCR&R) services flourished under the leadership of Melanie’s team and partner agencies around the state. Together, they connected countless parents with needed child care and helped providers improve quality.
- Paths to QUALITY™ – Indiana’s voluntary child care quality rating system quickly expanded across our state under Melanie’s leadership. Paths to QUALITY™ is a tool for parents seeking quality child care and providers seeking to improve their services. It is now a model for other states, boasting the highest participation level of licensed child care providers in the nation.
- Safer child care – Melanie’s office oversaw the implementation of new regulations for child care providers accepting CCDF vouchers. Now, hundreds more child care providers must meet basic health and safety standards if they are to receive public dollars. As a result, we believe fewer children will be injured or die in child care. More children will learn and thrive.
- Early Learning Advisory Council – Melanie has served as an appointed member of the Indiana Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC), but her team provided strong support to ensure it accomplished good work. She partnered with Kevin Bain, ELAC chair, to establish ELAC as a great model for statewide collaboration.
- Public Pre-K – The Early Education Matching Grants (EEMG) program and the On My Way Pre-K pilot were launched and managed by Melanie, her team and their partners around the state. EEMG is in its third year and On My Way Pre-K is starting its second. Thousands of young children will have high-quality learning experiences and be better-equipped for school success because of these new initiatives.
Melanie would be the first to say that she did not accomplish any of these things alone. And she would be right. She had the help of many dedicated people and partners around the state to do this work for children. But we know that in order to achieve great outcomes, great leadership is required. Melanie worked hard every day to ensure that she was doing all she could to make Indiana a wonderful place for young children and their families.
I know she will continue great things in her next big adventure. For now, though, it is important to celebrate and appreciate what we have done with her and because of her. Thank you, Melanie.
Early Learning Indiana President and CEO Ted Maple has worked on behalf of young children and their families for 18 years. Maple earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Indianapolis, a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Butler University, and his Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from Ball State University.