HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – Early Learning Indiana (ELI) announced Wednesday some local organizations are receiving grants through the Early Years Initiative, a competitive grant program to help strengthen communities’ efforts to support the learning and development of infants and toddlers in Indiana.

ELI says through more than $31 million in grants of up to $500,000 each, the 86 organizations will work to maximize the critical period of growth and brain development in very young children during their first three years of life. The awarded projects and programs are designed to help Hoosier families support the cognitive, social-emotional and physical wellbeing of infants and toddlers.

Officials say funding will support:

  • The development of more than 1,500 new infant and toddler seats in high-quality child care settings in communities facing the most critical need for early child education services.
  • A total of 46 programs that will work to strengthen families through home visits and parent education offerings.
  • Efforts from 30 organizations to help with early detection of special needs or disabilities among very young children and provide responsive interventions.
  • 15 programs that will promote essential skills through early language enhancement strategies.

Officials say the Early Years Initiative has a particular focus on infants and toddlers in low-income families, in families within communities of color and families where very young children are multi-language learners. All 86 organizations will serve families in low-income households; 69% of grantees will serve members of communities of color; and 63% will serve multi-language learners.

The news release says the local recipients include:

Vanderburgh County

  • St. Vincent Early Learning Center – $443,100
    • Create and implement a Behavioral Intervention and Support (BIS) program to serve 114 infants and toddlers in current child care program, addressing development of child, learning environments and relationships with teachers in the classroom, and family engagement. Uses a tiered intervention model. Currently PTQ4.
  • Building Blocks – $500,000
    • Expanding own Regional Training Center model to improve child care provider quality. Includes components of professional development, curriculum, assessment, business operations and family engagement. Serving a total of 120 programs in southwest Indiana, impacting 4,800 children across three years.
  • Foundation for Better Health – $494,100
    • Expansion of Pre to 3, a home visiting program developed by the Vanderburgh County Health Department, to Warrick, Gibson and Posey counties and to grow reach within Vanderburgh. Under this model, families receive home visiting and wrap-around support from a team of three highly trained professionals consisting of a Community Health Worker, Registered Nurse and Client Advocate. Partnering with Purdue to evaluate.

Perry County

  • Lincoln Hills Development Corporation – $500,000
    • Transitioning Early Head Start Home Based to Early Head Start center based to provide full-time childcare for 112 children across four counties in southern Indiana.

“The environment and experiences of a child’s first three years of life substantially influence
cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and often affect long-term academic
success and quality of life,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education.
“We are enthusiastic about the potential impact these funded efforts will have on very young
children and their families in our state.”