Early Learning Indiana has announced the finalists in a competition to address what it calls the state's child care desert. The selected schools, child care centers, community organizations and United Way agencies will now submit formal applications to receive up to $100,000 to provide high-quality child care for children ages six months to six years.

Early Learning Indiana reports child care deserts exist in each of Indiana’s 92 counties, according to a 2018 study conducted by the Indiana Business Research Center and Early Learning Indiana.

A child care desert is a neighborhood, town or part of a city where there is only one child care seat for every three children.

“For too many Hoosier children and families, high-quality early learning opportunities are out of reach, not just figuratively, but geographically,” Early Learning Indiana President and Chief Executive Officer Maureen Weber said. “These 19 finalists represent organizations with the most innovative solutions to help us build a stronger network of opportunity to support both working parents and the next generation of the workforce.”

The 19 finalists are:

  • Organization City/Town
  • Kosciusko County Community Foundation Warsaw
  • Right Steps Child Development Centers Lafayette
  • STEAM Academy Lafayette
  • The Oaks Academy Indianapolis
  • Shepherd Community Center Indianapolis
  • Washington County Family YMCA Salem
  • Montgomery County Community Foundation Crawfordsville
  • United Way of the Wabash Valley Terre Haute
  • Forward Wayne County, an initiative of Wayne County Foundation Richmond
  • United Way of Huntington County Huntington
  • Johnson County Learning Center Greenwood
  • United Way of Grant County Marion
  • Lake Area United Way Griffith
  • Rural Community Academy Sullivan
  • United Way of St. Joseph County South Bend
  • Early Learning Shelby County Shelbyville
  • Scott County School District 2 Scottsburg
  • Child Care Network Seymour
  • Community Foundation of Wabash County North Manchester

These finalists will submit full applications by November 15. Early Learning Indiana is slated to announce 10 grant winners in December. The Indiana Child Care Deserts Competition is made possible by a 2014 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.