INDIANAPOLIS – Following the close of the 2022 legislative session, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) commends the passage of legislation elevating work supporting early learning in Indiana. The legislation – a key part of Governor Eric J. Holcomb’s 2022 Next Level Agenda – restructures and expands the state’s Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) to complement the administration’s soon-to-be established Office of Kindergarten Readiness within the department.
“Building the best Indiana starts with supporting our youngest learners and creating the right education infrastructure to make sure children are best prepared to enter kindergarten,” Gov. Holcomb said. “We are bringing the right stakeholders together to constantly evaluate our progress and tackle the work that remains.”
ELAC, which was statutorily created in 2013, works to ensure that all children have access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education programs prior to kindergarten. With Gov. Holcomb signing House Enrolled Act 1093 into law, Indiana is elevating early childhood education by directing the committee to assume additional duties, including:
- Create child developmental and educational goals for the state’s early learning system;
- Design and maintain progress metrics that include objective measures of academic quality;
- Assess whether state licensure requirements create an equitable standard for health and safety across all early education program types and support the sustainability of Indiana’s early learning system; and
- Tackle the labor shortages facing early education providers through the design of workforce and professional development strategies.
House Enrolled Act 1093 also restructures the membership of ELAC to include additional early childhood education stakeholders, including school corporations, to heighten the focus on the transition from early learning to kindergarten.
“The window of opportunity for a child’s learning begins long before a student steps into a kindergarten classroom, making access to quality early learning a game changer for our students and families,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “The elevation of ELAC leverages a group of early learning thought leaders to set the vision, strategies and a method to monitor progress of the most important outcomes for our state’s youngest Hoosiers. With Governor Holcomb’s support of ELAC and creating an Office of Kindergarten Readiness, we will continue our work across state agencies in partnership with stakeholders to ensure that every student has access to high-quality early learning.”
ELAC will continue to be staffed in partnership with the Family and Social Services Administration’s (FSSA) Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL) and IDOE. OECOSL oversees Indiana’s licensure and regulation of childcare providers, the statewide quality rating and improvement system for early childcare providers (Paths to Quality) and On My Way Pre-K, a statewide grant program for four-year-olds from low-income families.
Investing in high-quality early learning opportunities provides a significant benefit for students and the state. According to longitudinal research from Purdue University, students who participated in On My Way Pre-K were more prepared for kindergarten than their low-income peers who did not participate in the program. These students then maintained greater language and literacy skills into elementary school.