It’s becoming a slogan for the early learning field: These are exciting times for early childhood in Indiana! To add to that energy, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) has awarded support to 20 programs in 18 different counties through Early Education Matching Grants (EEMG). These grants help recipients provide quality early education for Hoosier children from low-income families.
What makes this news so exciting is that 10 of these 18 counties are counties where Partnerships for Early Learners has made similar investments with our Lilly Endowment-funded work. As coordinated support and funding from public and private sources emerge, children and families have improved accessibility, affordability and quality. Programs in seven of these recipient counties are receiving EEMG funding for the first time, expanding Indiana’s infrastructure for sustainable early childhood investment. This broader investment also signals to local and statewide stakeholders where positive change is happening for early childhood.
My role as Director of Statewide Outreach and Leadership gives me to see many examples of local and statewide early childhood work. I work closely with the Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) in multiple ways, primarily as a co-chair of the Provider Participation Advancement workgroup. From the perspective of my job and my volunteer position as co-chair, the EEMG renewals and new recipients bodes well for immediate future growth for Indiana’s early childhood landscape. Our ELAC workgroup is focusing on supporting all Hoosier early childhood and child care providers. These efforts connecting providers with local early childhood coalitions and effective “toolkits” are importantly enhanced by new and continued state funding.
Additionally, Partnerships for Early Learners will announce a request for proposals (RFP) later this year. At the end of 2015, 11 high-quality programs from across the state were awarded grants based on their applications to expand their capacity to serve more children. With an additional funding round in 2016, the emerging Indiana early childhood infrastructure will have another infusion of capacity building resources, closely followed by quality improvement, workforce development, and family engagement efforts.
These are exciting times for Indiana early childhood indeed! 2016 continues to be a year of action for child care and early childhood for Hoosiers and this EEMG funding announcement is a firm boost to our already strong momentum.