BY SOPHIE BIRD
Six Monroe County child care programs will receive funding to expand facilities, hire new educators, and implement educational curricula thanks to $247,858 in grants awarded to the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. According to Jennifer Myers, coordinator of the Community Foundation Monroe Smart Start initiative, these improvements will create 166 new high-quality child care spots in the community.
High-quality child care programs work to prepare children for school and life, Myers says. For a child care program to be considered high quality it must voluntarily participate in the state-sponsored rating system Paths to QUALITY, which rates programs on health and safety, learning environments, planned curriculum, and national accreditation.
Tina Peterson, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, says access to high-quality childcare makes children more likely to read at grade level, graduate from high school, and make more money as adults. “This is a game changer for kids,” Peterson says.
The funds were awarded to Bloomington Center for Global Children, Covenant Christian Early Learning Place, Discovery Train Childcare-Preschool, Edgewood Early Childhood Center, Penny Lane West, and SCCAP Head Start First United. Peterson says the Community Foundation worked to ensure a diverse group of programs, including home-, church-, and school-based centers.
Some locations, such as Covenant Christian, will use funds to expand their physical facilities. Others will primarily purchase educational materials, hire educators and staff, and attend professional development sessions with the Indiana University Early Childhood Center and Creative Curriculum.
According to Myers, the grant funding offers a long-term benefit to the community. “Four dollars for every dollar invested in early childhood is what a community reaps,” she says. “So, when you think about this times four, it’s a lot of dollars that our community is going to get out of this grant.”
The Community Foundation received $215,858 in funding from the Indiana Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning and $32,000 from Early Learning Indiana.