Study eyes early childhood education opportunities

Study eyes early childhood education opportunities

A childcare facility feasibility study will explore early childhood education opportunities and ways to provide parents with options for their children.

The Economic Development Corporation Michigan City is working with IFF Real Estate Solutions and community leaders to grow or develop programs that will enhance the quality of early childhood education programs in Michigan City and LaPorte County.

“There is a strong link between childcare availability and entering or re-entering the workforce for parents. As a community, we need to provide quality facilities for moms and dads to entrust their little ones, so that they can feel secure in their children’s futures before they enter the school system,” said EDCMC Executive Director Clarence Hulse.

“IFF’s lengthy experience in supporting early childhood education throughout the Midwest, will be leveraged in Michigan City to walk alongside community leaders and ECE providers to enhance early childhood access for families,” said Amandula Anderson, Managing Director, Real Estate Solutions – Indiana, IFF. “The goal of this work with the EDCMC is to strengthen childcare opportunities for working families.”

The need for early childhood education was uncovered by a Center of Workforce Innovations study that revealed there are nearly 600 children and families who are searching for childcare slots. The grant for the study was funded by the Health Care Foundation of LaPorte County.

“With the grant and match in place, we are now at the initial phase of addressing this vital need in Michigan City and LaPorte County,” Hulse said. “Beyond working with the team at IFF Real Estate Solutions, we also have assembled a group of local community leaders on a committee to help offer insight and guidance on the process, study and project moving forward.”

“We understand how imperative quality childcare and early education are to a strong workforce and the success of our region companies,” said Linda Simmons, EDCMC Board chair. “We are thankful for the support from not only the Health Care Foundation, but also our committee members who are helping us approach this challenge from a new angle.”

The IFF team will evaluate the current offerings for early childhood education and potential opportunities by working with community stakeholders, putting together various scenarios to cultivate new and existing facilities and programs as well as a financial analysis for each of these proposals.

“Within the scope of these scenarios, there may be current facilities or programs that can be expanded to provide a higher level of education,” Hulse said. “We want to assist programs in place to boost the learning aspect of their curriculum and provide training to staff as needed to move the curriculum from just childcare and basic daycare as we know it to early childhood education centers.

“The feasibility study will provide us the path to pursue additional economic development and growth of our workforce by offering these key quality of life elements that our residents need to establish strong roots in our region.”  

“Our hope is to equip leaders and providers in Michigan City with the resources and tools to help children and families thrive and improve the workforce opportunities for all,” Anderson added.