Raising kids means you’re constantly making decisions — from what to make for dinner tonight to how to save for college down the road. Sometimes it can feel like every choice is a make-or-break moment.
Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. I found the Early Learning Marketplace, and it makes it so simple.
Early Learning Marketplace is an easy-to-use website designed for families like yours and mine. Early Learning Indiana (ELI) built this portal to simplify the lives of busy parents and caregivers seeking the right child care.
Marketplace lists Indiana child care providers, from small, home-based options to national names. You can search according to your family’s needs (days of the week, budget, vouchers, program type, languages, and more) and secure space for them with the child care provider of your choice, right in the portal.
I love that I can quickly see how many providers are close to my home and my office. It’s also easy to see which learning styles are available: STEM, Play-based, Montessori, etc. High-quality childcare is available right around the corner at a provider my child will love!
Start by going to FindEarlyLearning.org. You can sign up and create an account to make it easier to keep track of providers that interest you. Marketplace is always free for families to use.
There are multiple ways to search. You can start by entering your ZIP code or viewing an interactive map. Then, you can narrow the choices by the criteria most important to you. When you find a listing that looks interesting, click to read more.
For each listing, you will find information like:
● If the program is accepting new enrollments
● The ages of children currently being accepted
● The provider type and license number
● The provider’s philosophy and details about their daily care routine
● Cost, pay schedule, and whether vouchers are accepted
Once you find a child care provider who looks like the right fit, you can send them a message, schedule a tour, or reserve a seat for your child. If you’re not ready to make a decision, you can add the provider to your “favorites” and return later.
You can even read or write reviews of child care providers, making for an even richer experience. Reviews are posted publicly to help other families choose a program and to help providers understand how they’re being received.
When you find a program that interests you, you can view its licensing and regulatory information through the state of Indiana’s Child Care Finder website. If your search does not yield any results that work for you, you can request a free referral here.
High-Quality Child Care
Research shows that high-quality early care is critical to children’s learning and development, social skills, and more. Fortunately, Indiana has many high-quality child care options — if you know where to look and what to ask.
There are five main qualities to look for when seeking high-quality child care:
A focus on learning and development
Look for toys and activities that are mentally and physically stimulating, including how the staff interacts with the children. Child care should enrich children’s well-being, not just pass the time.
Proper health and safety procedures
When visiting a child care provider, ask about safety procedures and whether all staff know CPR, first aid, and safe sleep practices.
Appropriate child-to-staff ratios
Always check how many adults work at the child care provider and how many children they care for.
Look for a program that has an open-door policy for families and provides written policies that include and engage families.
Enrollment in Paths to QUALITY™
Paths to QUALITY™ is Indiana’s statewide quality rating and improvement system for early care and education. It consists of four levels, with the highest level being national accreditation.
Enrollment is optional, but when programs do more to support learning, they achieve a higher rating.
Learn more about what high-quality child care means on the Early Learning Indiana website.
About Early Learning Indiana
ELI is a nonprofit organization with a mission to ensure every child is empowered with essential skills to thrive in kindergarten and beyond. They believe that the first five years of a child’s life are some of the most critical. The organization began in 1899 as Day Nursery and thrives to this day.
● Operates high-quality early learning centers
● Helps families find quality child care
● Partners with teachers and providers to improve program quality
● Advocates for greater access to early educational opportunities for all Hoosier families
ELI is led by a staff and board of directors. These individuals bring decades of experience in early childhood education policy, practice, and organizational leadership. The board of directors comes from Indiana’s top public, private, and philanthropic organizations, lending their wisdom, passion, and dedication to ELI’s mission and success. ELI launched Marketplace in 2022.
Start exploring Marketplace
Marketplace is ready and waiting for Indiana families to start seeking child care. New providers continue to join Marketplace, expanding your options. Marketplace is here to simplify your search and help you make a confident choice. Visit findearlylearning.org today and simplify your child care search.