149 local child care providers receive COVID-19 relief grants

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 2:17 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - More than 100 local child care centers have now received grants to help with safety-related expenses due to the pandemic.

Early Learning Indiana awarded a total of 149 child care centers in St. Joseph County money through the Come Back Stronger Fund. The fund awarded $15 million total across the state of Indiana.

From Early Learning Indiana:

Early Learning Indiana today announced its fifth round of grant recipients in the $15 million Come Back Stronger Fund, designed to help Indiana’s early childhood education providers with safety-related expenses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In this round, 84 providers were approved to receive a combined $1,226,500. Since awards began, Early Learning Indiana has allocated nearly $8.9 million of the fund to 641 providers across the state. The fund is made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., to reinforce Indiana’s supply of high-quality early learning opportunities, especially for the state’s most vulnerable children. Through these awarded providers, over 29,897 children will continue having high-quality child care in Indiana.

“The pandemic has shone a light on the critical role early care and education providers play in our society,” said Early Learning Indiana President and CEO Maureen Weber. “It’s estimated that nearly one-third of our state’s child care providers made the difficult decision to close their doors when the pandemic first hit. Now as many of them re-open to serve families who need quality care in order to go back to work, safety is of utmost importance. We’re excited to see how providers use their grants to increase health and safety measures and expand to serve more families who need care.”

Applications are being reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis until the $15 million fund is depleted, and Early Learning Indiana will notify new awardees each week. View a map of awarded providers here.

Grant awards are of varying amounts up to $40,000 based on enrollment and the percentage of children served who receive federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) or On My Way Pre-K assistance from the state of Indiana. 

In their grant applications, awarded providers detailed how they would use grant funding to more safely serve families and expand to serve additional families. Examples include hiring an additional teacher to allow for smaller group sizes in order to minimize contact; creating a new role for a staff member who will meet families at the door to take temperatures and walk children to their classrooms; supporting social distancing and safety in classrooms by purchasing and installing hand sanitizer stations, room dividers to separate spaces for groups of infants and toddlers, and additional washer and dryer units to allow for increased laundry needs; and building out new classrooms at a center to increase the supply of early learning opportunities in the community.

To be eligible for grant funding, providers must be:

  • Licensed and registered centers, ministries or family child care home providers in Indiana in good standing
  • An approved CCDF or On My Way Pre-K provider or a provider that otherwise serves children from vulnerable family populations, defined as households at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • Operating as a Paths to QUALITY™ Level 3 or 4, or as a Paths to QUALITY™ Level 2 with a demonstrated commitment to achieving a higher level of program quality
  • Serving children ages 0-5

Early child care organizations can learn more about the Come Back Stronger Fund and apply at Early Learning Indiana also invites others to contribute to the fund to help make more grants possible throughout the state.  

Early Learning Indiana is Indiana’s oldest and largest early childhood education nonprofit, providing leadership, advocacy, and early childhood education services to continually improve the early learning landscape in Indiana. Today, Early Learning Indiana operates nine high-quality Day Early Learning centers, a network of premier community-based lab schools used to advance the science of early learning, train the next generation of teachers and leaders, and instill essential skills in the children we serve. Through regional and statewide programs, the organization enables early learning providers to build capacity, transform operations, and improve learning outcomes. Moreinformation is available at

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. More information is available at

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