News   |   Sign Up   |   A LEVER FOR SCALE


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.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

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 40% (292,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 46% (351,000) in 2016.1

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.

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

2023 Policy Progress:

In 2023, Indiana expanded its commitment to supporting early learning in the state, including expanded eligibility for On My Way Pre-K, the state’s pre-k program for low-income families, and an additional $5M to support projected increases in demand for the program. In addition, the legislature created a tax credit program for small and mid-sized businesses to offset some of the costs associated with providing child care to their employees.

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

Making the State’s Pre-K Program Permanent: Language in HEA 1591 ended the pilot designation for On My Way Pre-K, making the program a permanent part of the state’s educational programming. This change creates stability for families and providers who participate in the program.

Updates to TANF: SEA 265 provided important updates to the state’s efforts around TANF. These include raising the income eligibility levels for receiving TANF and increasing the cash benefit amounts for TANF for the first time since 1988. The legislation also allows women who are pregnant at the time of application and who meet the income requirements to be eligible for the program.

Beginning the Implementation of the Early Learning Advisory Committee’s Roadmap: In late 2022, the Early Learning Advisory Committee adopted a roadmap to guide its work in 2023 and beyond, including kickstarting efforts to update Indiana’s quality rating system, increasing reimbursement rates for providers, increasing income eligibility thresholds for CCDF and On My Way Pre-K, creating opportunities for further engagement by employers in providing care, and other licensing and regulatory issues.

Investments in Health: In 2023, Indiana passed a budget bill that appropriates hundreds of millions of dollars to improve local public health services and mental health access, including $5M for housing for pregnant women and vulnerable youth, $15M for the Nurse/Family Partnership, $8.2M per year specifically for infant and maternal health, $11M per year in Safety Pin funding, and $3.3M per year for My Healthy Baby, and $50M per year for mental health.

Lead Testing in Child Care Facilities: HEA 1138 requires childcare facilities to test their drinking water for lead, with requirements for facility owners to take remedial action if lead levels exceed EPA rules and standards.

Advocates were also able to advance an end to the local match requirement for On My Way Pre-K (where local government and/or private dollars are used to fund a portion of the awards granted to families) until the last week of session, but it ultimately was removed to keep other important program updates moving. Advocates are committed to revisiting the issue during the next legislative session.


Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantees in Indiana, 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 Economic Security

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Early Childhood Finance and Cost Modeling

Early Childhood Governance

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.



1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

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, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:


More State Demographic Data: