Thrive by 5 Launches in LaGrange and Noble Counties

Noble Thrive by 5, an Early Childhood Coalition formed in 2020 to increase the capacity, affordability, and quality of child care and early learning in Noble County, is now expanding.

As of January 1, 2023, Noble Thrive by 5 has become Thrive by 5, serving LaGrange and Noble Counties. Rather than continue with a separate coalition in each county, Thrive by 5, along with its coordinator Jenna Anderson, has formed a unique partnership to create one coalition for both counties.

“We have all heard the saying that two is better than one and know that we will be better together,” said Andrea Howe, HR Manager for Farmers State Bank. “Noble has already showed great strides on this initiative with the addition of Jenna’s role, and we are excited to see her work come to life in LaGrange County without completely reinventing the wheel and starting from scratch.”

On Wednesday, January 11, steering committee members from both the LaGrange and Noble County early childhood coalitions met together for the first time as a combined organization to develop a shared vision and business plan. This is more than a collaboration…it’s an alliance that will take the progress already being developed in Noble County and allow the coalition to hit the ground running in LaGrange.

“Noble Thrive by 5 has seen success in supporting early learning opportunities, and we hope to learn, collaborate, and build upon that success in LaGrange County,” said Sara Patrick, Executive Director for the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce. “We’re excited about the marriage of both coalitions because it brings an even-greater impact in LaGrange County through the bounty of experienced stakeholders at the table. Great things are coming, and after several years of working towards solutions, I personally am excited to see the tangible fruit of that work!”

Some of that progress in Noble County to increase capacity includes working with those interested in starting an early learning program and providing the support and resources they need. The most exciting project is a collaboration with the Town of Albion, which is interested in committing Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District Funds to pay a portion of the construction costs to build a new licensed child care center. 

Thrive by 5 is also nearly ready to launch a Tri-Share Pilot Program to address affordability in Noble County. Funded in part by County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) dollars budgeted by the Noble County Commissioners, this program will drastically cut child care costs for families, while engaging employers to provide a unique benefit to retain and attract employees.

“What I’ve discovered in the role as coalition coordinator is that this work is about finding opportunities,” said Thrive by 5 Coordinator Jenna Anderson. “By building relationships, working with a variety of organizations, and nurturing ideas, we will find those opportunities and develop them into something that can truly make a difference.”

There is power in numbers and Thrive by 5 has effectively doubled its resources.

“As collaborative organizations of diverse members who are working toward a common goal, one coalition gives us the opportunity to combine and leverage resources from multiple and diverse sources,” explained Margarita White, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Noble County.

Thrive by 5 isn’t alone in this work. It also has the support of the Northeast Indiana Regional Early Childhood Coalition (NEIRECC), which works to support and build local coalitions in our eleven counties.

“The child care crisis is complex and will take a concerted effort, we can work smarter and go farther together,” said Allie Sutherland, NEIRECC Coordinator. “Working together we can pool resources and make a larger impact for longer. We can also ensure we can continue the work and not continually start and stop efforts.”

These relationships are important to the success of this work.

“The lack of childcare and early learning opportunities affects all counties in northeast Indiana and across the state,” said Octavia Yoder, LaGrange County Community Foundation Executive Director. “This is a state-wide and regional issue and it can’t be solved by each county alone. Many people living in LaGrange and Noble counties cross county lines for work and share common interests. By partnering with a neighboring county, we can share logistic resources, reduce the programming operating costs, and focus on the important work of building communities with increased access to childcare and early learning.” 

While that work focuses on increasing the capacity, affordability, and quality of early learning, long-term success is vital to our communities.


“We can support working families in our community and provide opportunities to give them peace of mind their children have access to good care,” said Yoder. “Strong families build strong communities. We want to see families thrive.”


Albion Child Care Project

The Town of Albion, in partnership with the Kendallville Day Care Center, and Thrive by 5,  are working together to increase the capacity of child care in Noble County. A formal proposal was submitted to the Albion town Council and Albion Redevelopment Commission to use between $500,000 and $750,000 of the town’s surplus TIF (Tax Increment Finance) funds to construct a new child care facility on Albion’s north side. This facility would provide space for up to 150 children, and could be a second location managed by the Kendallville Day Care Center (pending approval of the Center’s board). Additional funding sources, such as grants (OCRA Public Facilities Grant, READI 2.0, Private & Public Foundations), business investments and local donations, will be pursued to demonstrate the support of the community for these much-needed child care seats.

Further information on this project will be released as it becomes available.

Impact to community:

  • Data shows that there aren’t enough child care seats in the county for the children and families who need them.
  • Infants and toddler seats are needed the most
    • It is estimated that there are up to 1,558 infant and toddlers (ages 0-3)
    • We only have the capacity to serve about 7% of those in regulated full-time child care providers throughout Noble County (108 seats total)
  • This project will help ease the strain on:
    • Families by providing the care they need for their children and giving them a choice on the type of child care facility they want for their children
    • Employers by increasing the pool of candidates from which to build their workforce
      • Employers have noted that a lack of child care in Noble County has been a barrier to filling their open positions
      • Employers can assist employees with the cost of care through benefits or fees directly to a child care provider
    • Economy by creating more jobs and bringing additional revenue into the community
    • Early childhood educators who would have an additional choice in employer, which will help them grow in their profession
    • High School Students who are interested in ECE would have a training ground to develop more interest in ECE professions.

Noble County Tri-Share Proposal


The Tri-Share Program was originally developed in Michigan and is administered by the Michigan Women’s Commission. This Tri-Share Program proposal was crafted specifically for Noble County, addressing the issue of child care affordability, while also creating future guidelines for child care sustainability and quality.

What is Noble Thrive by 5?

The Noble Thrive by 5 Early Childhood Coalition brings together organizations in Noble County to develop innovative, sustainable solutions around the challenges of child care and early learning so parents are able to go to work knowing their children are safe, loved, and learning.  From the core organizations of the Community Foundation of Noble County, Noble County Economic Development Corporation, and Crossroads United Way, to the many organizations that make up New Community Initiatives, the Noble County Interagency group and the Community Learning Center Leadership Team, child care affects so many throughout the community, and many are deeply involved in its solution. The existence of Noble Thrive by 5 is to bring the community together to increase the capacity, affordability, and quality of child care and early learning in Noble County.

The Idea

As you know, education is primarily publicly funded. It doesn’t matter your socio-economic status, every child in grades K-12 has access to a public school education. That’s not the case with early learning opportunities for ages 0-5. In this space, high quality child care that provides a curriculum even for the youngest infants can be prohibitively expensive for families, while still preventing early learning professionals from earning a living wage. In a July 7, 2022 article from WFYI PBS in Indianapolis, a home child care worker said it best when she stated that child cares are a “school setting without the school funding.”

Children need these early learning opportunities to have the best chance at not only success in school, but for the rest of their lives. Ninety percent of brain development happens in the first five years of a child’s life. So much happens in the child’s brain during those years that if we’re not investing and putting young children in environments that are learning-rich, we are setting them up for struggles in school, lower income levels as adults, higher health care costs later in life, even a higher likelihood of amassing a criminal record.

The Tri-Share Program will address the affordability of child care and early learning programs in Noble County. Parents who make less than 127% of the Federal Poverty Level can qualify for Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers, while parents making 128% or more still struggle to pay for child care, as well as the daily costs of living.

“Affordable” child care is defined as paying 7% or less of a household’s gross salary on child care. In Noble County, the average weekly cost for care is around $150. To be considered “affordable,” a family (or single parent) would have to be making $109,000 annually. In Noble County, the median household income is $56,000. That means child care is not affordable for most Noble County families.

This program will increase affordability for families by splitting the cost of child care three ways for qualifying families.

  • One third the cost of child care is paid for by an American Rescue Plan contribution from the Noble County Commissioners
  • One third the cost of child care is paid for by the parent
  • One third the cost of child care is paid for by the employer

Some things to note about the Tri-Share Program. We do not intend this to be a stand-alone project. It is one piece of a multi-faceted plan to address the capacity, affordability, and quality of early learning opportunities in Noble County.

It will address affordability now, by putting more money back in the pockets of working families. They will be able to spend it elsewhere in our economy, while the child care centers still get the support they need to continue their vital work of educating our youngest Noble County residents.

As we move forward, plans are developing to tackle the challenges of capacity and quality. We are working with providers and local stakeholders to expand and open new seats to ease waiting lists. As space becomes available, this could potentially draw more residents to Noble County, if local government plays a role in a child care benefit to families. Employers who “opt-in” would be more attractive to potential employees, because participation in the Tri-Share Program indicates that employer appreciates and supports it workers.

We are advancing ways to make sure child care and early learning workers are supported through professional development that’s not a burden to them or to their families. That education, in turn, increases the quality of care our children receive and allows them to receive the additional benefits, including financial incentives and recognition to attract families.

There are so many people and organizations locally invested in making a difference in this space. This Tri-Share Program is one small step in the right direction.



  • Employers may “opt in” to the program.
    • Employers could choose which employees (outside of income levels) would be eligible for the benefit (full-time, part-time, etc.).
    • They would choose a maximum number of staff members who could participate, or could choose to fund the education of a maximum number of children.
    • If more than that maximum number at one employer are deemed “eligible,” priority will go to the staff members with the lowest household incomes.
    • We would request that each employer that “opts in” provides at least one representative for the Tri-Share Program Committee.
    • We have several employers who are interested in the program, talking further and potentially allocating funds, but want to ensure government support before proceeding.
  • Child care providers may “opt in” to the program.
    • All Noble County child care providers and early learning programs who are licensed, registered, or legally licensed exempt will be eligible to participate in the pilot program.
      • We hope that this will encourage more providers to become regulated.
    • Continued eligibility will depend on guidelines for providers after the first year, which could include increased staff wages and participation in the Paths to Quality program (see “Future Plans” under Benefits, below).
    • Interested providers include:
      • Kendallville Day Care Center (Licensed Center, Paths to Quality Level 3)
      • Lighthouse Childcare and Learning Service (Registered Ministry)
      • Trinity Day Care Ministry (Registered Ministry)
      • The Jr. Jungle (Licensed Home, Paths to Quality Level 3)
  • Employees of companies that “opt in” to the program are eligible.
    • Eligible employees willmake between 128% and 300% of Federal Poverty Levels*
    • They must not be eligible for other assistance (CCDF, On My Way Pre-K).
    • Their children must attend a participating child care/early learning program.

*Guidelines for CCDF eligibility are expected to be updated in October 2022. At that time, adjustments to the eligibility of Noble County’s Tri-Share Program will be updated accordingly.

Program Administration

The administration of this program will be conducted by Noble Thrive by 5. This includes:

  • Application and approval process for employees.
  • Onboarding of new providers and employers
  • Billing for government funds (through the Community Foundation of Noble County)
  • Billing for employer funds.
  • Billing may happen quarterly or monthly, depending on needs of provider.
  • Noble Thrive by 5 will request a small administration fee (10%) from grant funds to support this program.

How This Will Benefit Noble County

The Noble County Tri-Share Program will immediately address the issues of child care and early learning sustainability and affordability for families, while creating additional plans to support quality and increased wages for early learning professionals.

  • Affordability: Sharing the cost of child care will help families who are making a livable wage, yet still struggling, be able to spend less on quality child care, increasing the amount of money they have to spend elsewhere.
  • Sustainability: Building a partnership between the county government and local employers will support the operations of the child care center, while also allowing more parents to put their child in a quality early learning environment so they can fill some of the open positions in Noble County, improving the local economy.
  • Future Plans for Increased Wages: Employers participating in the program want to make sure that the investment not only supports the current funding levels of the child care provider, but increases wages for employees to a “living wage.”
    • More information is needed yet from child care providers about what a preferred minimum hourly rate would be, and the cost to provide that to all employees, while also providing a pay increase to existing employees.
    • This part of the project will require additional development
  • Future Plans for Increased Quality: Participating providers will work to earn or maintain Paths to Quality levels.
    • This could be a barrier for some to start. While providers are in support of additional education for staff and the possibility of joining Paths to Quality, time and willingness to take classes are a hurdle that we must address before this can become part of the program.

Support for the Tri-Share Program by the Noble County Commissioners

Noble Thrive by 5 is requesting $50,000* of Noble County’s Share of American Rescue Plan funding. This money will be deposited into a Noble County Tri-Share non-permanent fund at the Community Foundation of Noble County, where it will be distributed to local child care and early learning providers to pay 1/3 of the fees for eligible families.

In addition to the funds, we would request that the Commissioners appoint one representative to serve on the Tri-Share Program Committee, which will guide the pilot program in the first year, and collaborate to determine its future.

*Noble County Government offices were named as one of the largest employers of parents with children in local child care. We would like to suggest that the Commissioners allocate more funding, and would essentially pay 2/3 the cost of child care for their eligible employees. If the Commissioners agree with Noble County being an employer, as well, we would request an additional $25,000 in funding, for a total of $75,000. For reference, we expect the maximum amount of 1/3 of child care in Noble County to be around $70 per week. If Noble County, as an employer, was funding 1/3 of the child care for ten children at the maximum, the cost for the year would be $36,400. However, if we look more at the average amount of child care in Noble County, 1/3 of the average cost would be closer to $50 per week for a total cost of $26,000 annually. This amount is negotiable, based on the maximum number of employees/children the county would agree to support through the program.

We expect that this initial $50,000 investment would be able to assist about 20 families in its first year, depending on the cost of child care. True participation depends on a number of factors, including income levels, participating employers, and whether children are being cared for in one of Noble County’s licensed, registered, or legally license exempt providers.

If there is funding still available at the end of the pilot period, we would request that the money be retained at the Community Foundation of Noble County for the purpose of supporting child care and early learning. At that time, the Commissioners would be able to determine how those funds would be used.

First Steps Approved for New Child Care Center

Albion, IN – The Albion Town Council has approved the submission of requests for proposals to conduct a fiscal analysis and architectural study, the first steps to building a new child care center in Albion.

The Town of Albion, Kendallville Day Care, and Noble Thrive by 5 have partnered to help address the lack of child care capacity in the community. The preliminary plan to construct a new building to house a second location of Kendallville Day Care would include using Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds from Albion, as well as enacting a robust grant funding strategy, public fundraising campaign, and a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant proposal.

This project is critical to the community because there is such a need for child care seats in Noble County, said Jenna Anderson, Noble Thrive by 5 Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator.

“Early Learning Indiana’s recent Closing the Gap study estimated that there are 2,240 children under the age of six who need care in Noble County,” said Anderson. We only have seats for a fraction of those, and wait lists at local child care providers keep growing.”

“As an Albion native for over 40 years, I have personally been a part of and witnessed the struggle, for children and families, of finding high-quality, licensed, childcare in our small – but growing – community,” said Tina Lee, Director of the Kendallville Day Care Center. “While Albion has always been a tight-knit community, blessed with loving homes and facilities to care for children, there just simply are not enough child care options for families to meet the workforce demand.”

Preliminary estimates for the project are at $2 million for capital costs. The funding strategy will include up to $1.32 million in grant dollars, plus additional money coming from a local fundraising campaign. TIF funds would fill in the gap between the amount raised and the total cost to build.

“TIF funds are meant to spur economic development or fund infrastructure construction within the TIF district that would not occur without the availability of the funds,” said Albion Town Manager Jacob Ihrie. “The construction of a daycare facility meets this mission. According to the Early Learning Policy Group, the child care industry has an economic impact of $99.3 billion through direct and indirect impacts.”

Once the fiscal analysis is in hand, Noble Thrive by 5 will begin applying for grants to support the project. The amount of funds raised will decrease the TIF responsibility of the town.

The lack of child care in Noble County not only affects families, but it also affects the economy. Employers have noted that a lack of child care has been a barrier to filling their open positions. Creating space in a new facility will provide care for up to 150 children, which is the approximate number of children on waiting lists at Noble County’s major providers. Those parents can then enter the workforce, bolstering our economy.

“Simply put, child care is economic development,” said Ihrie. “It gives parents the freedom to pursue careers when they otherwise couldn’t due to a lack of childcare options.”

Ihrie continued, “Through making investments in increasing child care options, we hope to signal to our employers that we want them here, we want their employees to have more reliable child care options, and we want more individuals to feel like Albion is or could be their home.”

Much thought went into approaching the Kendallville Day Care Center to expand into Albion.

“It’s important to build on an asset that is already in our community,” said Anderson. “Kendallville Day Care is a high-quality, licensed center that is on Paths to Quality, and provides early learning curriculum for its youngest children, even infants, to give them the best possible start in life.”

Kendallville Day Care supports low income families through acceptance of Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers and On My Way Pre-K, which provides free high quality preschool opportunities to qualified families.

“All children deserve a location where they can feel safe, valued, equal, and that their basic human needs will be met by loving, compassionate, and qualified caregivers,” said Lee. “I’m proud to be part of the team bringing more child care options to my hometown!”

Expanding the Kendallville Day Care is the first step in addressing the issues of capacity, quality and affordability of child care and early learning in Noble County. It will provide more choices for families, as well as support existing child care facilities by the opportunities this project will bring, including new partnerships with employers.

“This is innovative,” said Ihrie. “This is something that, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been pursued in the State of Indiana. This is an opportunity to show that rural counties can innovate. We can defy the odds. As I round out my first year as Albion’s Town Manager, I have been astounded by our community’s resilience, and I am hopeful that we can continue contributing to this resilience through our innovation, determination, and resolve.”

Noble County Child Care Investments = $1.126 Million

For Immediate Release – July 5, 2022

Stabilization Funds Support Early Learning, Set the Stage for Expansion

Ligonier, IN – After the second and final round of Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants, Noble County child care providers received more than $1.126 million to support their businesses.

In the first round of Stabilization Grants in late 2021, Noble County providers received a total of nearly $360,000, equaling an estimated three months of operating expenses. The second round, available in early 2022, provided five months of operating expenses. Because more child care facilities were eligible to apply for the second round, the amount being invested in Noble County exceeded expectations. Providers were granted about $766,000, far more than the original estimate of $600,000.

“We were so excited to see more local child care providers take advantage of the second round of Stabilization Grants,” said Noble Thrive by 5 Coalition Coordinator Jenna Anderson. Her office has assisted local child care providers with the grant application process when needed.

These funds have not only spurred the increase of salaries in some cases, but have also provided relief for underpaid child care staff in the form of bonuses and added benefits.”

These funds came from a portion of Indiana’s appropriation of the American Rescue Plan Act. Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants were non-competitive and designed to provide short-term funding to early childhood and out-of-school-time programs that have faced increased costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible providers are using the grant funds to stabilize their operations and build capacity for the future, including spending at least 25% of the grant funding on increasing staff wages and benefits. Dollars can be used across six categories of allowable expenses ranging from personnel costs and facility fees to mental health supports for children and staff.

Grant awards were calculated using a cost estimation formula which considers each provider’s licensed program type, average attendance, staffing costs, quality level and geography to arrive at an estimated funding level.

In the four-county Northeast Indiana region, child care providers in LaGrange, Steuben, Dekalb, and Noble counties earned just over $5.5 million in Stabilization Grant funds.

This money has helped our providers tremendously by giving an infusion of funds when it was needed the most,” said Anderson. “What can be used for expansion, which was not within the Stabilization Grant guidelines.”

According to the Early Learning Indiana Closing the Gap Profile, as of February 2022 Noble County only had 28.2% of the capacity needed in child care and early learning programs. This gap in care for 0-5 year olds is affecting the economy, as local employers struggle to hire folks to fill their open positions, and family members can’t work when they can’t find quality, affordable child care.

Noble Thrive by 5 is working with a number of providers, employers, and organizations to increase the amount of child care and early learning programs in Noble County. Anyone who would like to learn more about the work of Noble Thrive by 5 can reach Anderson at 260-445-3369 or

Noble County IS Collaboration

Written by Jenna Anderson, Noble Thrive by 5 Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator

I may not be native to Noble County, but I have made it my home for the last 22 years. During that time, I didn’t simply sit back and let the world happen around me. I got involved, and something became clear very quickly. Noble County is the definition of the word collaboration. Looking back, I know I saw this when I was a reporter for The News Sun. Moving to the Kendallville Public Library, I noticed that we partnered with many organizations throughout the community to create important programs and services. But it wasn’t until about 2017 when I recognized it for what it truly was.

Noble Thrive by 5 Coordinator Jenna Anderson addresses a group of more than 30 Noble County Leaders representing a wide variety of organizations. New Community Initiatives hosted forum to examine solutions for Noble County’s child care challenges on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in Ligonier.

I was donating my time and talents to the United Way of Noble County to create a video that would run at their first Power of the Purse event. I was asked to attend an Interagency Meeting to record the communication and collaboration that goes on among social service agencies. It’s not overstating to tell you that I was blown away by this monthly gathering. Around 30 agencies serving Noble County were represented. Some were based in Noble County and some were headquartered elsewhere in the region but serve Noble County residents. All were committed to collaboration that benefits those living and working in our little slice of Indiana. They shared the work they were doing. They shared grant opportunities that they had found, even though another agency applying for the same funds might prevent their own organization from receiving the grant. I heard from an agency that serves multiple counties that they were awed by the collaboration and cooperation in Noble County, because they do not find it within the other counties they serve. I saw the groups getting together right after the main meeting to talk about how they can join forces. That’s when I realized what I had known all along about Noble County…we are the definition of collaboration.

It’s the reason I’m so involved in my community. Heck, it’s the reason why I took the job as Noble Thrive by 5’s Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator. No one person, organization, or even a small group of agencies is going to solve the complex challenges surrounding child care and early learning. It’s going to take ALL OF US.

If I hadn’t witnessed the power of teamwork within Noble County, I would have turned down the position back when it was offered to me in September 2021. But because I know our organizations and individuals are committed to working together and not duplicating services; because I have seen the powerful things that can be built by many having a common goal (such as the Community Learning Center); because I have been part of groups that literally change the landscape of the community for common good (Noble Trails); I knew that Noble Thrive by 5 would have all it needed to increase the capacity, quality, and affordability of child care and early learning experiences in Noble County. It has the power of collaboration behind it.

A table of four people representing different organizations throughout Noble County and the region work together to identify Noble County’s assets and link them to create opportunities to solve child care challenges. Organizations represented include Stone’s Hill Church, Lighthouse Childcare and Learning Service, Cole Family YMCA, and the Northeast Indiana Regional Early Childhood Coalition.

Noble Thrive by 5 wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without three main organizations seeing its value and working together. The Community Foundation of Noble County, Noble County Economic Development Corporation, and United Way of Noble County (now Crossroads United Way) saw how the lack of child care and early learning opportunities affect so many in our community. It affects, families, businesses, the economy…it’s incredible how much it touches. Because of that, those three organizations brought other stakeholders into the collaboration. Brightpoint, Parkview, the YMCA, educators, employers, community leaders, child care providers, social service organizations, and more. Since joining the team, I have been working closely with New Community Initiatives based in Ligonier, which is made up of a large number of community leaders, the Community Learning Center’s Leadership Team of dedicated programmers and supported organizations, The ARC Noble County Foundations, which reached out to offer assistance with staffing, with the Town of Albion and its manager on the potential for a new child care center. We’re working beyond the borders of Noble County to create a Regional Early Childhood Coalition which will enable further collaboration throughout our 11 counties in Northeast Indiana. We are meeting with coalitions and child care providers across the state to work together to solve the challenges all of our communities face.

I can’t possibly list all the partnerships surrounding just this one project. But my point is this: Noble County is collaboration. Every day, those of us who live and work here team up to make our community a better place. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Q&A with Noble Thrive by 5 Leader Tammy Pifer

The work that’s being done by the Early Childhood Coalition is done by a team of experts in a variety of fields, who are passionate about making sure that Noble County has a solid foundation of high quality and affordable child care and early learning facilities. Here is the story of BrightPoint’s Tammy Pifer, in her own words.

Question: How did you get into Early Childhood Education?

Tammy: I am a Social Worker by training and have my Bachelor’s degree in that field.  Even as I went through that program I knew that I wanted to do community work and not have my own practice. During the summers I worked at Easter Seals ARC’s special needs childcare and interned with their First Steps Developmental Therapists.  That was my introduction to working with small children and their families.  I fell in love with the family services pieces and became passionate about working with families with small children.  After school I started working with Healthy Families and then Early Head Start. I have now been working in early childhood programs for over 20 years. During that time as well I decided that I am passionate enough about early childhood education that I got my Master’s degree in Education with a focus on Early Childhood Education.

Question: Why are you passionate about it?

Tammy: I am passionate about working with families with infants and toddlers because I know the importance of those early years.  Programs can only do so much, we have to partner with parents to help them be able to support their child’s growth and development. 

Question: Tell us about your career advancement?

Tammy: I started working with children in my pre-teen years as a babysitter.  I worked at a special needs childcare during summers of college.  After college I worked in a community childcare facility.  I started working at Brightpoint 22 years ago in the Childcare Voucher program as an Intake Specialist.  I then worked as a Coordinator for a program that helped childcare providers receive funding to help them move up levels in the Paths to Quality program.  When that program ended, I became a Home Visitor for the Healthy Families program. I moved into a Quality Assurance Supervisor position, then to a Program Supervisor, and eventually to the Program Manager.  When Brightpoint received the Early Head Start program in 2010, I became the Program Manager for that program. I am currently the Monitoring Analysis & Compliance Manager where I help the program analyze data from the program to make program decisions.  This year I also was asked to be an Adjunct Instructor for Ivy Tech Community College. 

Question: Tell us a little about those Ivy Tech Classes.

Tammy: This semester I am teaching two 8-week accelerated courses in Child Growth & Development.  This is a 100 level class to get students familiar with the basics of child development from prenatal to age 8. Being a lifelong learner is something that is also very important to me and I want to help students also gain that love of education and early childhood.  We are also facing an extreme shortage of teachers and staff in early childhood so I want to do my part to help bring more people into this field.  I think my experience can help students see the importance of caring for little ones beyond what’s in a text book.

What do you hope for the future of Early Childhood Education in Noble County?

My hope for Early Childhood Education in Noble County is that the entire community understands the need to have a strong Early Childhood Education system and bands together to provide that for all our children. I would love to see us be a Center of Excellence that other communities look to for an example of how to do it.

Question: Anything else you want to add?

Tammy: As a part of my passion for learning, early childhood, and working with families I have also taken every opportunity I can to build skills for myself and that would benefit others.  While I worked for Healthy Families I was a Certified Peer Reviewer. I am a PITC (Program for Infant Toddler Care) Trainer, I am a Certified Family Development Instructor through the University of Connecticut, and I am a Home Visitor CDA Professional Development Specialist.  These things allow me to help us create the best programs for children and families that we can.

Resiliency is Created in Early Childhood

When do people develop resiliency? According to Stacey Gagnon, founder of Lost Sparrows, it is the time that they are in utero up until age 2.

During this time, implicit memories are lodged in the brain, and even these memories can create adverse behaviors in adults.

As babies form attachments – when they are soothed if they are fussy or cuddled when they are lonely – that innately tells them “I am loved. I am worthy,” said Gagnon.

Babies who don’t have that care, who face difficult childhoods all the way through age 18 are at higher risk of pulmonary and cardiovascular damage, experience broken marriage, or deal with mental and emotional challenges throughout their lives.

Gagnon says all this can be tracked through an ACE study. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. Those include characteristics like feeling unloved, dealing with a parent who had a drug or alcohol addiction, being a victim of molestation, coming from a split family, and more. A high ACE score is considered 4 and above out of 10. If you’ve experienced at least four out of the ten Adverse Childhood Experiences listed, then you are at risk.

We know that the ages of 0-5 are critical to a child’s healthy development. Millions of neural pathways are created every minute. Very young children who experience these ACEs – trauma before age 2 – can actually have their neural networks adversely restructured, said Gagnon.

The good new is that the brain can always learn, change and form new pathways. This is why Lost Sparrows was formed…to help children and adults who experienced trauma at an early age get back on the right path. To make better choices, to live healthier lives.

Learn more at

Noble County Families Benefit from On My Way Pre-K Grants, Programs

Recently, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration released the results of two studies that show children are part of the On My Way Pre-K program are better prepared for school and that the benefits continue well into elementary school.

This news comes as no surprise to East Noble Assistant Superintendent Becca Lamon, who was instrumental in launching the East Noble School Corporation’s Preschool program, one of two programs in Noble County to accept On My Way Pre-K grants for families.

“There is long standing research to support that high quality learning experiences affect life long outcomes for students,” said Lamon. “High quality preschool experiences provide students with a higher rate of vocabulary acquisition and the building blocks for future success.  Preschool programs that have obtained a PTQ 3 or 4 rating help facilitate this student success by ensuring that the health and safety of students has been addressed and have also examined the instructional strategies and curriculum choices that aid in student learning.”

With just ten families in Noble County taking advantage of the program in the current school year, Noble County’s Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator, Jenna Anderson, knows there is room for improvement. She heads Noble Thrive by 5, which is focused on capacity, affordability and quality of child care and preschool programs in Noble County.

“We know that a high-quality preschool program is important to a child’s development, not only in the short-term but over the course of their lives,” said Anderson. “We also know that there are struggling families in Noble County who could use these grants to provide their children with a great foundation for success.”

Kendallville Day Care Center and the East Noble Preschool Program (housed in Avilla School) are the only two providers in Noble County that accept On My Way Pre-K grants. Approved programs may be in a public or private school, licensed childcare center, licensed home or registered ministry as long as that program meets the quality requirements and is registered as an On My Way Pre-K Provider.

Providers interested in learning more about becoming an On My Way Pre-K program can contact Anderson at jenna@noblethriveby5 or through the Community Foundation of Noble County at 260-897-3335.

About the On My Way Pre-K Studies:

The first study released by FSSA is a multi-year longitudinal study demonstrating that children who attend the On My Way Pre-K program have stronger school readiness, language and literacy skills than their peers with similar family incomes who attend lower quality childcare or prekindergarten programs. On My Way Pre-K allows 4-year-old children of low-income families to attend high-quality early education programs for a year before entering kindergarten. The study was conducted by Purdue University researchers from the Center for Early Learning. The study revealed that the pattern of On My Way Pre-K children outperforming their peers continued through the third and fourth grades, as measured in standardized Math and English/Language Arts scores.

Additionally, On My Way Pre-K children from the 2020-2021 school year matched up positively compared to national norms established for all prekindergarten children in the first annual Kindergarten Readiness Indicators assessment, conducted by the University of Chicago.

Results of both the Purdue study and the University of Chicago study are available here.

“The studies show that Indiana’s investment in high-quality early education for the children of lower-income families is helping our youngest learners achieve at their greatest potential for years to come,” said Gov. Eric J. Holcomb. “Giving children a good start on their education pathway delivers a more well-prepared student and ultimately a ready to go workforce, both key elements to our state’s future growth and opportunity.”

Noble County Receives Federal Child Care Stabilization Grant Funds

Noble County child care providers received a total of $359,601.00 in Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Funds.

Funded by a portion of Indiana’s appropriation of the American Rescue Plan Act, Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants are non-competitive and designed to provide short-term funding to early childhood and out-of-school-time programs that have faced increased costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers must meet eligibility criteria and agree to use grant funds to stabilize their operations and build capacity for the future, including spending at least 25% of the grant funding on increasing staff wages and benefits. Dollars can be used across six categories of allowable expenses ranging from personnel costs and facility fees to mental health supports for children and staff.

Grant awards are calculated using a cost estimation formula which considers each provider’s licensed program type, average attendance, staffing costs, quality level and geography to arrive at an estimated funding level.

“Access to these funds means so much to the child care providers in Noble County,” said Jenna Anderson, coordinator for Noble Thrive by 5. “We know that some of them will be able to retain staff and hire new staff due to increased wages, bonuses and benefits. It will also allow many providers to update their facilities and provide more quality early learning experiences for our youngest residents.”

Additionally in the four county area, Dekalb County providers received $419,500, Steuben County providers received $582,386.00, and LaGrange County providers received $169,954.00.

“Noble County children will benefit from those funds, as well,” said Anderson. “Because Noble County’s child care capacity is smaller than the need, many families have to go outside of the county to find child care.”

She noted that a portion of the $423,181.00 given to Whitley County, too, will benefit providers who care for Noble County children.

The applications for a second round of Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants will open on Monday, January 17 and continue through April 15. Providers who previously applied for funding in 2021 can apply again, once they complete their Round 1 Grant Report.

In addition to funding for providers, Build, Learn, Grow Family Scholarships have been extended. Families who are in a child care program and have at least one parent working in an essential field can apply through June 2022. This funding can cover all or a percentage of child care costs, depending on income.

Anyone with questions about this funding, or any questions related to child care and early learning in Noble County can reach Anderson at 260-445-3369 or