MCCF Among Winners of Statewide Child Care Deserts Competition

Published: January 23, 2020

The Montgomery County Community Foundation has been announced as a winner of the Child Care Deserts Competition, focused on increasing access to high-quality child care for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years. More than four of every 10 children in Indiana lives in a child care desert – a neighborhood, town or part of a city where there is no more than one child care seat for every three children. The Child Care Deserts Competition, hosted by Early Learning Indiana with support from a 2014 grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc., awarded $1 million to 13 organizations for their submitted ideas to create new child care seats.

The Montgomery County Community Foundation will receive $100,000 from Early Learning Indiana in the Child Care Desert Competition. The news was shared at a Montgomery County Workforce Development Roundtable meeting which is a group organized by Mayor Barton to address workforce related issues.

Child care rose to the top of the Workforce Development Roundtable’s concerns in 2019, and a task force was formed with representatives from local government, nonprofits, industry, and schools. Data from the Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee showed that Montgomery County ranked in the ten lowest counties for childcare seats and that only 2% of Montgomery County children under the age of 5 were enrolled in high-quality programs.

Before launching any new initiatives related to child care, the needs of the community had to be studied thoroughly. MCCF and the City of Crawfordsville collaborated with local employers to hire a consultant to complete a community needs assessment related to child care in the county, as well as develop a strategic plan to respond to the need.

Using the findings from the needs assessment, the task force drove a proposal for the Child Care Deserts Competition. The plan includes partnerships with Rainbows and Rhymes Preschool at First United Methodist Church and Hand in Hand at First Christian Church. The grant funds will be used to add 56 new full day care preschool seats at Rainbows and Rhymes, and 24 new full day care infant and toddler seats at Hand in Hand. Both programs will be focused on delivering high quality care.

Funds will also be used to start a Montgomery County Early Childhood Coalition to improve child care quality through provider and public education. Hoosier Heartland State Bank, Pace Dairy, Nucor Steel, Wabash College, Wesley Thrift Shop, CEL&P, City of Crawfordsville, and the Montgomery County Community Foundation have partnered to provide additional funding support for the coalition.