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Indiana Early Learning Hub helping childcare providers maximize resources during the pandemic

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Posted at 7:47 PM, Jan 14, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — The pandemic continues to cause a strain on Hoosier families and some industries have their employees working remotely, while others are back to work.

That leaves parents relying on childcare facilities, that are facing their own set of challenges.

“Frankly, I would not have been able to go to work without early childhood providers," Dr. Nancy Swigonski, a professor with the Department of Pediatrics at IU School of Medicine, said. "Most women would not be able to go to work.”

IU School of Medicine is partnering with a new online resource called the Indiana Early Learning Hub to help 12 childcare providers located in zip codes that are at high risk for infant mortality.

“Our partnership with the Indiana Learning Hub really comes from recognizing that essential role that early childhood providers play in the community but also recognizing the challenges that they have,” she said.

Swigonski said early childcare providers are undervalued, underpaid, and under-resourced.

“One of the things I see the Indiana Early Learning Hub do is really support that gap where there is no one else that is helping to support the business aspect of early childhood providers,” Swigonski said.

The hub is a subscription-based program that focuses on supporting and strengthening childcare operations. It provides Hoosier childcare directors, business owners, teachers, and staff access to more than 2,000 tools.

The site provides handbooks, policies, and guidelines for budgeting, business best practices, human resources, and more.

“Our goal is to really support the early childhood providers as businesses," Swigonski said. "So that they can support not only the safety and early brain development of infants but also the well-being of families."

According to the Family and Social Services Administration, out of approximately 4,300 child care providers it regulates in Indiana, 20 that informed FSSA they were closing in March, remain closed.

New research from the Indiana Early Learning Advisory committee shows three out of five programs expect the COVID-19 pandemic to have a long term impact. The most common concern is reduced enrollment.