Noble County Early Childhood Issues Impact Community-Wide Economic Development


Contact: Brad Graden, Executive Director, Community Foundation of Noble County, (260) 894-3335,

Noble County Early Childhood Issues Impact Community-Wide Economic Development
Early Childhood Education Coalition works to create plan

NOBLE COUNTY (04/29/2021) There are over 3,500 young children in Noble County under six years old, and nearly two-thirds of their parents work. Where are those children going while their parents are working? Are they prepared for kindergarten? Is childcare in Noble County affordable and accessible? These are the questions that the Noble County Early Childhood Education (ECE) Coalition is working to answer.

This child care gap was apparent to community leaders at the Community Foundation of Noble County, Be Noble (Noble County Economic Development Corporation), and Crossroads United Way, serving Elkhart, LaGrange & Noble Counties. Together, they hired Transform Consulting Group to gather key partners and develop a community-wide plan to get more children ready for school.

“We know there are only 115 high-quality ECE program spots available for children in our county and nearly 700 spots available in other known ECE programs. Where are the other 2,700 children at while their parents are working? We’re starting to hear stories of the challenges parents face when finding places for their kids, employers struggling to retain talent due to the lack of childcare options, and 60-70% of incoming kindergarteners are not ready for school. Something has to happen here,” Brad Graden, Executive Director, Community Foundation of Noble County.

When child care is unstable for parents, it’s not just the families who suffer, but their employers as well. In Noble County, a needs assessment was completed which included collecting data and feedback from employers, parents, and ECE program providers. Some notable findings include:

● Nine out of 10 employers have employees who are either unable to focus at work, are late, or miss work due to issues related to child care.
● 68% of employers in see child care as an important factor in their employee’s decision to work in Noble County
● Employers, employees, and parents rated child care as a top issue in Noble County out of 10 issues.
● A single parent living in poverty would have to dedicate a third (33%) of their income in order to access high-quality child care for just one child.

Studies show that for every dollar invested in early childhood education, the return on investment can be $4-$15 due to the lower special education costs, retention costs, reduced cost for social issues (teen pregnancy, homelessness, etc.), 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.

Those are the numbers that spoke to leaders at the Noble County Economic Development Corporation. “This is not an issue we can just throw off on families to deal with alone. The lack of child care options in our community, the quality of programs, and high costs are issues that will impact ALL of us. It affects our ability to meet the needs of both working parents and employers who need to recruit top talent and a steady stream of employees,” said Gary Gatman, Executive Director, Be Noble.

Led by the expertise of Transform Consulting Group, the Noble County ECE Coalition took these learnings and developed a five year strategic plan. The next steps? Hiring a coordinator to implement the plan AND build up volunteer committees for support.

To learn more about the coalition coordinator position, volunteer committee opportunities, or information about the Noble County Early Childhood Education Coalition, please contact Brad Graden, Executive Director, Community Foundation of Noble County,, (260) 894-3335.