An early learning nonprofit has awarded more than $13.1 million in grant money to child care and early learning providers around Indiana, to help them navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 1,000 providers in counties around the state are receiving part of the funding. It'll be used for things like hiring new teachers, buying safety and sanitization supplies, and expanding capacity.
Early Learning Indiana President Maureen Weber says the goal is to help high-quality providers stay open as they adapt to changes in demand spurred by COVID-19.
"This is an industry that really barely survives; in the best of times we look at razor thin margins as the norm across the early learning community," she said.
Weber says more than 500 providers in Indiana have closed at least temporarily since the pandemic began and even though many plan to reopen, she says the coming weeks will be critical to work through.
"I think there's a real risk that providers – even those that have stayed open to this point in the pandemic – will ultimately have to close their doors for a lack of business," she says.
Providers have received the funding on a rolling basis since late spring. Weber says the funding will also help pay for things like mental health support for staff, and materials to support social distancing in classrooms.
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Weber says the remaining $1.8 million from the fund will be used to respond to critical community needs and gaps as they arise in the coming weeks.