Indiana's largest early learning nonprofit is awarding a handful of groups $100,000 in grant funding, aimed at streamlining business services for child care providers to save them time and money.
Early Learning Indiana is awarding grants to seven groups across the state that will use the funding to support child care centers and providers in their area.
In Monroe County, a group called Monroe Smart Start will use the funds to create a digital hub for child care providers where they can more easily manage things like staffing needs, finances and bookkeeping.
Monroe Smart Start Coordinator Jennifer Myers said one goal is to free up resources for child care providers to use them where they need them the most; recruiting and retaining staff has been an ongoing challenge in the industry because of low pay.
"And those cost savings then, you know, can go back into teachers' wages," Myers said.
The group will launch the hub as a pilot later this year and hopes to expand it in the future.
Right Steps Childhood Development Centers in Tippecanoe County is also receiving a grant but is taking a different approach to how it will use the funds.
The group helps manage business operations for several child care centers in the area, and President Debi DeBruyn said the grant will pay for one-time business and infrastructure costs to open a new child care center in Jasper County.
DeBruyn said Right Steps will continue managing internal operations, but local partners will help sustain the new center financially – which is particularly important for nearby businesses.
"One of the key ingredients to a successful child care center opening in any area – you have to have a lot of community support," DeBruyn said.
DeBruyn said they hope to open the new center later this year. Grant recipients have one year to launch their projects with the funding, and a full list can be found on Early Learning Indiana's website.
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