The United Way of the Wabash Valley announced a grant award from its Success By 6 Impact Council addressing access to high-quality childcare in our community. Earlier this year, the council solicited applications from childcare sites to propose how they would provide quality affordable childcare and prepare children to enter school ready to learn by increasing their enrollment numbers in an existing Level 3 or 4 Paths to QUALITY™ program or move up a level in the rating system. From the application process, volunteers evaluated and selected three childcare sites, Sugar Grove Title I Preschool in Vigo County and Steps of Faith Child Care Ministry and Tik Tock Daycare in Sullivan County, to receive a total of $68,000 over the next two years.
High-quality childcare lays a foundation for learning and success. Research shows that a child’s brain develops more rapidly in the first five years than at any other time in life. This means that the quality of care a young child receives in their early years significantly influences their long-term growth and development. The quality of childcare is regulated by the Paths to QUALITY™ program in Indiana. This system consists of four levels, each level builds on the foundation of the previous one, with 4 being the highest level achieved with national accreditation. In Indiana, only 35% of children in childcare are attending a high-quality program. In many places around the state, and in the Wabash Valley, few high-quality programs exist, and if there are programs, there is not enough capacity. The United Way saw this as a major issue in being able to move 10,000 families out of financial struggles and into stability and decided to begin addressing it.
Krissie Pickering, the Early Childhood Education Program Chair at Ivy Tech Community College and the co-chair of the Success By 6 Council explained, “United Way’s Success By 6 is focused on making sure our community’s youngest members have access to high-quality care and that organizations have the tools needed to provide such care. Studies show that children who receive high-quality child care enter school with better math, language, and social skills. These skills give children a good start to succeed in school and in life.”
The three childcare sites that were awarded the grant are all currently unrated or are level 1 on Paths to QUALITY™. With the award of this grant, all three hope to achieve Level 3 or 4 and become a high-quality rated childcare site with an impact to over 170 children. The grant will allow these childcare sites to invest in learning centers, outdoor learning play areas, and safety upgrades to facilities to comply with the Paths to QUALITY™ program.
For the United Way, a highlight of this award is that it makes a direct investment into Sullivan County with Tik Tock Daycare and Steps of Faith Childcare. Richard Payonk, United Way’s Executive Director explained, “while we strive to impact our entire 6-county service area, it is great to be able to make a large-scale direct impact on early childhood education in Sullivan County. Without any high-quality (Level 3 or 4) childcare providers located in Sullivan, the result of this grant will be felt for years to come by establishing high-quality care for over 135 children.”