Aligning local and regional resources is critical in any collaborative effort. This is especially true for childcare services in East Central Indiana and Wayne County. That need led to the creation of the Regional Birth to Five Coalition, which supports childcare services throughout the region.

As Forward Wayne County continues to focus on early childhood success, this blog is providing an overview of the Regional Birth to Five Coalition.

Special thanks to Jeri McCorkle, TRAC Program Manager, and Theresa Lindsey, Wayne County EDC Business and Workforce Development Manager, for providing information.

Coalition Beginnings

The concept of a Regional Birth to Five Coalition has traceable origins going back to when East Central Indiana (ECI) stakeholders realized the value of early childhood learning (ECL). Fast forward to 2021, when the East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative (ECITC) was formed to help advance regional initiatives.

One of those initiatives was birth to five programming. Thus, the Regional Birth to Five Coalition was created to help address gaps in ECL throughout the region. The group comprises several like-minded professionals, from childcare experts to nonprofit and community leaders.

In 2021, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation launched the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI). East Central Indiana was one of the many state regions that received millions of dollars of funding from READI. From East Central Indiana’s allocation, $1.5 million was awarded to ECITC to help advance the Regional Birth to Five Coalition.

Mission and Programs

As part of its mission, the Regional Birth to Five Coalition works to ensure that early learning professionals are provided with quality learning opportunities and experiences. To that end, the group collaborated to create the Regional Training, Resource, and Advocacy Connector (TRAC). Jerri McCorkle is the TRAC Program Manager.

“TRAC is the result of the Regional Birth to Five Coalition’s deeply rooted commitment to long-term growth in the region and throughout the state. Our grassroots efforts support ECL providers who then support every sector in the region by ensuring that parents and family members can go to work.”

The program aims to give early learning providers access to quality resources and training while encouraging others to pursue careers in ECL. Additionally, TRAC engages with employers and policymakers to advocate for the importance of ECL programs.

The goal of TRAC is to become a model for training and resources for families and ECL professionals to rely on.

Another focus area of TRAC is to support the early learning sector of ECI communities. The goal is to increase that sector’s capacity to support a thriving and productive workforce. To that end, there is a TRAC County Coordinator in every county. In Wayne County, the TRAC County Coordinator is Dani Arthur. She serves Wayne County and helps connect local early care organizations to various resources, funding opportunities, and access to a monthly newsletter dedicated to early care and learning.

Regional and Local Impacts

Since its implementation, the TRAC program has had numerous regional impacts. In May, $210,000 in funding was awarded to 22 early care and learning projects by the Regional Activity Support Committee. This is a committee of the Regional Birth to Five Coalition. Some projects include facility improvements, learning materials, outdoor play spaces, and more. Each application went through a rigorous and in-depth evaluation process. Forward Wayne County Program Director Acacia St. John serves as the Regional Activity Support Chair.

“The Regional Birth to Five Coalition received more than 40 applications and were excited to award much-needed funds to 22 groups throughout eight counties.”

Wayne County early learning centers received a portion of the grant funding through TRAC. $27,909 was allocated to Oak Park Learning Academy and Old Richmond Daycare and Preschool to support S.T.E.A.M. learning curriculum and develop outdoor learning spaces.

 The EDC of Wayne County, in partnership with Eastern Indiana Works, received funding from TRAC to support two centrally located onboarding/orientation sessions for incoming early childhood employees. This training program will gather potential hires and interested persons to participate in the requisite I LEAD sections, CPR, and First Aid, under the direction of an experienced early childhood director.  Early childhood care and education providers will send potential hires for this comprehensive training to JUMP START the employee for effective and longer lasting employment.  The EDC and Eastern Indiana Works will actively recruit interested participants from the community and local adult education programs such as the Excel Center, Eastern Indiana Works, Richmond Adult Education, Ivy Tech, and IU East.  

Along with grantmaking, TRAC provided scholarships to childcare providers to attend state-level conferences. This year, the program has also continued its advocacy for early care learning, with presentations given to policymakers at every level of government.

Next Steps

The Regional Birth to Five Coalition plans to continue developing TRAC. The group developed a strategic plan for the program through 2026. During this time, Trac will offer more specified training to families and ECL providers while looking for ways to reduce onboarding costs and difficulties. Plans are also in place to build more partnerships with local stakeholders to grow the coalition at the community and regional levels.

TRAC and the coalition have invested over 500 hours and $210,000 back into the ECL systems, helping to ensure continual growth for our children, our programs, and our region,” said Jeri.

For more information on TRAC, contact Jeri McCorkle at

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