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Indiana

Indiana, like all states, has a unique early childhood policy landscape that is shaped by economics, demographics, political history, coalitions, and other factors that create a state-specific environment for policy advocacy.

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s environment and the numerous efforts—by the organizations listed on this page, other organizations, parents, policymakers, practitioners, and more—who work both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

2024 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 41% (305,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2022). This number represents a decrease from 44% (325,000) in 2017.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed the state’s biennial budget on May 5 with total appropriations from all funds of $51.6 billion in fiscal 2024 and $51.3 billion in fiscal 2025. Total general fund appropriations are $22.0 billion in fiscal 2024, a 1.1 percent decline from fiscal 2023’s estimated level, and $22.6 billion in fiscal 2025, a 2.3 percent increase from fiscal 2024.3

Largest Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers) (FY 2021):4

      • Charges: $1,913 per capita
      • Individual IncomeTaxes: $1,736 per capita

(Charges are public payments connected with a specific government service, such as tuition paid to a state university, payments to a public hospital, or highway tolls. Indiana uses all major state and local taxes.)

State Budget Rules:4

Indiana uses a biennial budget. The legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget, nor is the governor required to sign one, and deficits may be carried over into the following year. However, the state has budget rules that require lawmakers to balance revenues and expenditures. Indiana further limits spending growth through a statutory formula, but the spending cap may be overridden by a simple legislative majority. The state limits total authorized debt incurred by the state but not debt service.

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  One

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2024 Policy Progress:

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

Senate Bill 2 included a number of childcare and early education policy updates aimed at improving the efficacy of the childcare system by expediting the regulatory reform work undertaken by the Early Learning Advisory Committee; addressing the shortfall of qualified childcare workers by making childcare workers categorically eligible for childcare and pre-K subsidies; expanding access to childcare in hard-to-serve areas by creating a micro-center pilot, streamlining requirements for public schools to become eligible pre-K providers, and improving processes for background checks and fingerprinting for prospective childcare workers; and creating greater public transparency around the use of early care and learning funding pools through the development of additional public dashboards and reports. This bill was the result of work carried out during the legislature’s interim study period in 2023.

Administrative action to make childcare worker credentials tuition free. Training programs for childcare workers will be tuition free under the state’s Workforce Ready Grant and Employer Training Grant programs and includes the Child Development Associate and other early education programs offered by the state’s two-year colleges and other eligible training providers. The programs can be used for both new and existing employees.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

Since 2009, our lead ally in Indiana—United Way of Central Indiana—has convened a statewide coalition of early childhood educators, business leaders, and philanthropic organizations aimed at improving the quality of Indiana’s early childhood education system and increasing access to programs. Early Learning Indiana has been a key partner in these efforts. With advocacy aimed at both the Governor’s office and the Indiana General Assembly, the coalition successfully turned a five-county pilot into a statewide program for pre-k.

Early Learning Indiana & United Way of Central Indiana are working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

K-3 Education

Preschool and Pre-K

Child and
Maternal Health

Child Welfare

Early Intervention (Age 0-3)

Infant & Child Health

Maternal Health

Family
Supports

Family Economic Security

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Early Childhood Finance and Cost Modeling

Early Childhood Governance

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, January, 2024. 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021.

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Proposed and Enacted Budgets, FY 2025.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, June 2024.

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2024 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, April 29, 2024.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved July, 2024.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, July, 2024.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-October, 2024. 

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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