A child’s experiences from birth to age five can have a profound effect on their success later in life, from social and emotional intelligence to health and employment. Crucial brain development occurs during those early, active years that can provide either a strong or weak foundation for children to build upon. High-quality early education during this period can have a profound impact on a child’s success in school and beyond. And it also has a positive ripple effect that extends to their families and their communities. Despite this unparalleled opportunity for impact, lack of access prevents children, many of them in rural areas, from receiving the benefits of an enriching early learning experience. Systemic barriers including high cost of care, unsustainable care models, and workforce challenges result in limited capacity that is unaffordable for many Hoosiers. This lack of access leads to child-care deserts, towns, or neighborhoods where there is no more than one child-care seat for every three children. The outcome is that children miss out on early skill development, which affects their future choices, hinders families’ opportunities for career advancement and improved social mobility, and threatens the vitality of communities across the state.
Early childhood education is an industry at a crossroads. Uniquely positioned as both a high-quality provider and a statewide advocate, Early Learning Indiana is at the forefront of efforts to solve the fundamental issues of access, affordability, and quality that persist. CEO and President Maureen Weber will share key insight into the state of early childhood education in Indiana and national early learning trends. She will also provide valuable perspective on Early Learning Indiana’s priorities and continued efforts to advance innovation and facilitate local solutions through community coalitions. A panel of IPA members will join Maureen to share how their communities are approaching this issue.