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January 23rd, 2020


Courtesy of

Written by Kate Vaulter

More than 900 new seats created through competition addressing insufficient child care availability across Indiana

Early Learning Indiana today announced the winners of the Child Care Deserts Competition, which is focused on addressing the fact that more than four of every 10 children in Indiana live in a child care desert. Thirteen organizations — including schools, child care centers, community organizations and United Way agencies — will receive grants of $75,000 to $150,000 to increase access to high-quality child care for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years.

Child care deserts exist in each of Indiana’s 92 counties, according to a 2018 study conducted by the Indiana Business Research Center and Early Learning Indiana. A child care desert is a neighborhood, town or part of a city where there is no more than one child care seat for every three children. Statewide, 45.2% of children live in a child care desert. With the number of preschool-age children in Indiana expected to increase by more than 7% by 2025, the need to increase child care capacity is more urgent now than ever before.

With support from a 2014 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Child Care Deserts Competition sought to engage organizations to provide innovative solutions to address this challenge. In October, Early Learning Indiana invited 19 finalists in the competition to submit formal applications for the opportunity. A review committee selected 13 winners for their submitted ideas that, combined, will create more than 900 new child care seats in communities across Indiana.

“As a result of this competition, many more Hoosier families will be able to experience the two-generational impact of early childhood education,” said Early Learning CEO and President Maureen Weber. “Parents who previously faced difficult decisions due to lack of access to child care can now remain in or rejoin the workforce while their children benefit from an enriching early learning experience.”

The Child Care Deserts Competition winners are:

Johnson County Learning Center, Greenwood ($75,000) – Renovate and outfit a newly purchased building to serve as a child care center

Kosciusko County Community Foundation, Warsaw ($75,000) – Repurpose four classrooms through Warsaw Community Schools to offer licensed child care and partner with a local child care provider

The Oaks Academy, Indianapolis ($75,000) – Renovate an existing space to create a pre-K center and support professional development through a Teacher Renewal Fellowship program

United Way of the Wabash Valley, Inc., Terre Haute ($75,000) – Repurpose rooms in available school locations to create new seats and secure a partnership with a child care provider to operate the classrooms

Wayne County Foundation, Richmond ($100,000) – Outfit classrooms in a building owned and renovated by Sugar Creek Packing, a local manufacturing business, to be operated by the Richmond Family YMCA

Lake Area United Way, Griffith ($100,000) – Provide staffing and materials for a new center in an available space at Methodist Hospital North campus that will offer 18-hour care

• Montgomery County Community Foundation, Crawfordsville ($100,000) – Renovate two buildings to become registered ministry programs and create a coalition to provide community supports for providers and families

Scott County School District 2, Scottsburg ($100,000) – Renovate existing school rooms to create preschool and pre-K classrooms

Shepherd Community Center, Indianapolis ($100,000) – Renovate a new property to create 10 new early learning classrooms

Early Learning Shelby County, Shelbyville ($150,000) – Build a new infant and toddler care center on a donated property and partner with Early Head Start

Right Steps Child Development Centers, Lafayette ($150,000) – Renovate locations for three new centers in Tippecanoe, Newton and Fountain counties

United Way of Grant County, Marion ($150,000) – Renovate and support eight total child care locations including school districts, centers, registered ministries and family child care homes

United Way of St. Joseph County, South Bend ($150,000) – Support the creation of two new facilities in different locations

Learn more about Indiana’s child care deserts with this special data report.

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