About the Early Childhood Education Coalition
Meet the coordinator:
Jenna Anderson was named the Early Childhood Education Coalition Coordinator for Noble County in October 2021, and expanded to LaGrange County in early 2023.
As an employee of the Community Foundation of Noble County, she is be based at the Foundation office, but spends much time out in the field, traveling around Noble and LaGrange Counties working with those who can make an impact on early childhood education.
The Early Childhood Education Coalition, which was formed in early 2020, was created to address the issue of child care and education for the very young in the county.
There are more than 3,500 young children in Noble County under 6 years old, and nearly two-thirds of their parents work.
Prior to 2020, no one organization was identifying where those children were going during the day, what kind of education they were or weren’t getting, and whether the county had enough capacity and affordability in child care.
Child care and early childhood education have been identified as workforce issues — shortfalls in child care options can have negative effects on building a labor force as well as building families and growing the local population long-term. If the area doesn’t places to send kids during the workday, or if child care is too expensive to afford on local wages, parents may have to move or find employment elsewhere.
Studies show that for every dollar invested in early childhood education, the return on that investment can be $4 to $15 due to the lower special education costs, retention costs, reduced cost for social issues, an increase in post-secondary attainment and lower crime costs. Indiana loses nearly $1.1 billion every year due to a lack of child care and child-care-related absenteeism and turnover. This child care gap was apparent to community leaders at the Community Foundation of Noble County, the Noble County Economic Development Corporation, and Crossroads United Way, serving Elkhart, LaGrange and Noble Counties.
Together, they hired Tranform Consulting Group to gather key partners and develop a community-wide plan to get more children ready for school. The strategic plan was created, and a coordinator was hired in October 2021 to carry it out.
In January 2023, LaGrange County became part of the Early Childhood Coalition and Noble Thrive by 5 became Thrive by 5 of Noble and LaGrange Counties.