Early childhood education is vital, and the first five years of life are crucial for brain development. Given this circumstance, parents must surround their children with the resources they need to fully learn and grow. Wayne County is full of those very resources. However, keeping track of every local program and organization offering them can take time and effort.  

As Forward Wayne County begins to focus on Early Childhood Success, we will discuss the importance of early learning and some of the many resources residents have at their disposal.  

Importance of Early Learning 

Several studies have found that children’s brains develop the most during the first five years of life. The brain also develops more rapidly during this period than at any other point in life. By the time a child reaches the age of five, 90% of its brain has already developed.  

Research shows that children need a solid foundation of education during their earliest years. This requires a variety of teaching methods and resources, and parents must actively use them. 

Wayne County has several organizations and programs that can help nurture early childhood learning.  

Online Resources and Data  

Various statewide organizations offer online early childhood development services and data for families. Brighter Futures Indiana and the Indiana Early Learning Committee are two of those organizations. 

Brighter Futures Indiana gives families a wealth of information and programs to help their children succeed. Their offerings include assistance with finding childcare, connections to government/nonprofit resources, and options for financial assistance. Additionally, Brighter Futures supports a comprehensive data center with metrics dealing with all things early learning and childcare. 

The Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee is a state program that gives parents additional support when they need it. This includes childcare assistance, readily available statistics, local childcare provider referrals, and other beneficial resources. The Committee also hosts an online Child Care Finder.   

While Brighter Futures and the Early Learning Advisory Committee are not located in Wayne County, they give families access to online services that connect them to more local early learning options.  

Family Support  

Raising a child sometimes requires support from people outside of the family. Birth to Five is a Wayne County organization that can give parents the support their children need in early learning. They focus on empowering parents to act as teachers and advocates for their kids.  

One of Birth to Five’s many programs is Parents as Teachers. This approach teaches parents about early childhood development and best practices to help them prepare their children for life. The program also provides support in identifying developmental delays and other health issues.  

Birth to Five offers personalized home visits, group events, developmental screenings, and community resource networking. It also supports other childcare providers in the community.  

Childhood Literacy  

Childhood literacy is critical to early development. It is an important skill that will help kids when they enter elementary school. Those looking for local literacy programs can turn to Every Child Can Read and Morrisson-Reeves Library.  

Every Child Can Read is a local nonprofit that promotes early childhood literacy in the community. One of the organization’s programs, K-Ready, offers parents free age-appropriate books to read to their kids. Thanks to a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, families can receive 12 free books each month.  

Morrisson-Reeves Library features several programs and events geared toward young readers. The Library’s Youth Services provides all types of experiences for kids looking to read their first book. Check out MRL’s online calendar for every event. There is also the Summer Reading Program, which runs from June 1st to July 27th.  

If someone is looking for an outdoor excursion, they may want to check out StoryWalk. This immersive experience through Morrisson-Reeves allows parents to take their kids on a reading journey. StoryWalk is available at Mary Schott Park and Hayes Arboretum.   

Museum Programs 

There are also early childhood learning programs through local museums. The Joseph Moore Museum hosts Little Explorers every Wednesday and features a new weekly theme. Additionally, the Wayne County Historical Museum puts on educational programming for younger audiences.

As you can see, Wayne County is full of early childhood learning organizations and programs. The key is being aware of what is available to parents. There is no shortage of options in the community.

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