Early Learning Indiana has launched the Come Back Stronger Fund with the support of a $15.7 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
CEO Maureen Weber says the funding will help providers make new, necessary operational changes to deliver safe and high-quality early learning services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"For providers that means things like changing our sanitation practices, strengthening those. Thinking about our physical environment in ways that support greater social distancing as much as it’s possible with young children," says Weber.
She says in the best of times, early learning providers operate on razor-thin margins due to the imbalance between the cost of providing care and families’ ability to afford it. The COVID-19 pandemic has added safety-related expenses and uncertainty around enrollment and staffing.
"We’ll keep children isolated into separate groups so they will be with the same groups of children all day long and won’t inter-mingle with other children," says Weber. "A lot of things will look different in child care going forward."
The fund will provide tiered grants of up to $40,000 based on enrollment and the percentage of kids served from vulnerable populations. Licensed and registered centers, ministries and family childcare home providers are eligible to apply.
Early child care organizations will be able to learn more about the Come Back Stronger Fund and apply at www.earlylearningin.org/comebackstronger.
Guidelines and application instructions will be available May 19. Early Learning Indiana also invites others to contribute to the fund to help make more grants possible throughout the state.