County receives $100K early education grant

Staff Writer

Adams County, IN (Nov. 30, 2021) – Early Learning Indiana today awarded a $100,000.00 grant to Adams County Economic Development Corporation (Adams County EDC) in Adams Co. 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 Adams County EDC have partnered with local childcare provider The Kings Kingdom Childcare to expand services at the new M.E.R.I.T Center. This partnership will create an additional 58 seats of available Childcare in Adams County. The funding of this grant will be utilized to retrofit and equip two rooms to begin service.
“We are thrilled to have received this award that will expand the high quality capacity of offerings for our Adams County children. We are excited for this partnership and to see the tangible results come to form over the coming months at the M.E.R.I.T Center. We know that childcare is an incredible need in our community, especially when it comes to our workforce and filling positions of need for our business. We believe by continuing to work to increase our childcare capacity, that we will enhance the numbers of individuals participating in our workforce. This is a great win for the ACEDC, Adams County Early Learning Coalition, the M.E.R.I.T Center Board, and all of Adams County”, stated Colton Bickel, Executive Director of the Adams County EDC.
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 county, the Early Learning Access Index is 42.7.
-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 accessibility to high-quality early learning programs in Indiana.

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