January 13, 2022

New nature-based program to address early learning gaps in Boone County

Mental Health America of Boone County will use a $100,000 grant to address gaps in to high-quality early learning programs.  Early Learning Indiana provided the “Closing the Gap grant.”

Mental Health America of Boone County will use a $100,000 grant to address gaps in to high-quality early learning programs. Early Learning Indiana provided the “Closing the Gap grant.”

Mental Health America of Boone County will use a $100,000 grant to address gaps in high-quality early learning programs.

Early Learning Indiana provided the “Closing the Gap grant.”

Natalie Brake, Early Learning Indiana’s senior director of community outreach and engagement, said the award will be applied to a new nature-based learning to address the gaps Boone County families’ face in accessing high-quality early learning programs.

“Students will be spending at least 30 percent of their day outside directly engaged in learning,” Brake said. “In addition to that they are also bringing nature inside, so they have a setup for their classrooms that is going to be fully integrating nature -- bringing the nature indoors and bringing the children outdoors.”

Early Learning Indiana – with support from Lilly Endowment Inc. – awarded 17 Closing the Gap grants following the organization’s 2021 report assessing Indiana’s early learning opportunities.

That report found “moderate” access to early learning and care across the state, but it often varied significantly from community to community. More than two-thirds of Indiana counties only have enough capacity to serve less than half the children under 5-years of age who need care, according to the report, and 14 counties have no high-quality infant/toddler care.

Contact WFYI Morning Edition newscaster and reporter Taylor Bennett at tbennett@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @TaylorB2213.

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