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Access to early learning programs has historically been reduced to a quantifiable analysis of supply and demand. These studies are useful in determining whether there are enough early care and education spots to meet the perceived demand within a given geographic boundary. Where they fall short, however, is in qualifying how well the supply meets the needs of the population, beyond simply ensuring there are enough seats for children who may be in need.

Early Learning Indiana has developed a methodology called the Early Learning Access Index to both qualify and quantify child care access throughout Indiana. This method moves away from viewing access as simply a capacity supply and demand equation and layers in the additional components of quality, affordability and choice. These four elements, viewed in context with one another, offer a more robust assessment of Hoosier families’ ability to access early learning opportunities that suit their needs. Since 2021, we’ve updated and analyzed this data annually, providing Indiana and individual communities with the information needed to better serve families and children.


Source: Early Learning Indiana (2023). Closing the Gap.