The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration awarded 30 organizations from 15 different Indiana counties Early Childhood Education Matching Grants on Wednesday. The program will help provide quality early education for low-income children in Indiana.
“This is an important step toward increased school readiness and academic success for low income children,” said Melanie Brizzi, Administrator of FSSA’s Bureau of Child Care. “The grants leverage public and private investments within high-quality community-based programs, including school-based, faith-based and nonprofit early learning programs. This approach allows many more at-risk children access to high-quality early education.”
The grant program was created during the 2013 legislative session to allow high-quality early education programs to apply for matching funds to serve 4-year-old children from families below the federal poverty line.
Although the pre-K pilot legislation was approved by the 2014 General Assembly, the Early Childhood Education Matching Grant is separate from the 2014 legislation. Under the current program, grants are awarded directly to providers statewide; while the program created by this year’s legislation provides for families in five pilot counties to apply for scholarships.
In order for applicants to be eligible for the grant, they were required to have already achieved Level Three or Level Four in Paths to QUALITY TM, the state’s voluntary childcare quality rating and improvement system. Applicants were also required to secure a cash match from a community organization or another funding source.
The FSSA received 35 applications and awarded $1,457,733 to 30 early education and care programs. United Way agencies, corporations, public-private organizations coalitions and individual donors also awarded another $1,539,859 in matching funds to those grantees.
“We have formed a working relationship with other level 4 in QUALITY TM childcare centers in the Muncie City and we decided to work together and pull from our resources,” said Jennifer Young, director of the Child Care Study Center of Ball State University.
Recipients – including the Child Care Study Center of Ball State University – said they are thrilled to receive these grants and are focused to create more opportunities for low-income children to receive childcare.
“We all submitted our own individual applications because the plan was to work together for the betterment of the city when it comes to providing childcare to low-income families,” Young said.
Two million dollars will be available for two years beginning in 2014, according to the 2013 matching grant legislation. Grants awards will be effective July 1, 2014.
Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.