Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership Unveils Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan: The plan presents forward-looking strategies for positioning the 11-county region as the location of choice for all businesses and people determined to be tomorrow’s market leaders.

Why Regional Businesses Lose $200M Annually

October 3rd, 2019

Early Childhood Education Affects More Than your Bottom Line

Northeast Indiana companies are losing $200 million annually due to a lack of early childhood education and childcare resources in our 11 counties. That’s why we graciously accepted the privilege of hosting Indiana’s annual convening on one of the most critical elements to families, communities and employers alike; high-quality early childhood care and education. 

We plan to gather over 300 attendees with a focus on business leadership at the 2019 Indiana Early Learning Summit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7, hosted for the first time right here in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana.

We are asking business, community, higher education and non-profit leaders to attend this meaningful discussion on how to transform Northeast Indiana’s approach to early childhood care and education. RSVP today to reserve your seat at the table.

Bragging rights are at stake as we plan to host one of the best-ever Early Learning events with first-class presentations, expert keynote remarks, focused breakout sessions and a packed house with business and community leaders.

It’s critical to set aside a couple of hours to listen, lean in, contribute and make a difference in the lives of children, their families and your employees today and in the future. Northeast Indiana’s success relies on you, your colleagues and your friends actively participating to change the landscape of early childhood education and care in our region.

The State of Early Childhood Education in Northeast Indiana

The harsh reality is that we are not winning when it comes to early learning and childcare in Indiana. Statewide, the direct costs to employers due to absences and employee turnover from childcare related issues amount to just shy of $1.8 billion annually.

For Northeast Indiana, our share of the challenge is about $200 million.

The costs of the absences are systemic in the workplace; lost production, overtime pay, pay to temps and pay to absent salaried employees. Working parents with children under 5 years of age will miss on average, about 13 days of work annually due to essential childcare responsibilities.

Adding insult to injury, almost 3% of working parents will find it necessary to quit their jobs to fulfill their critical responsibility to their family’s childcare.

You would think that we here in Northeast Indiana would be way ahead of the curve in the attack on this issue, yet there’s still more work to do. It was almost 20 years ago when the team at the Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) based in Fort Wayne conceived the very successful “Paths to Quality” voluntary approach to raising the quality and access to childcare provider selection. Now, the program is the foundational standard throughout Indiana. We may have a rightful claim for an early start credited to the leadership of the ECA, but we are still way behind on the access to high-quality early childhood care.

And, let us not forget, most importantly, at the heart of this matter are children.


Caring for our children is not simply a burden; a mere inconvenience leading to absenteeism and an unnecessary business expense. The very first years of their lives are undoubtedly the most important not only from a brain science standpoint but also for security and relational development that leads to healthy and productive lives. Let us not overlook or underestimate the benefits of supporting employees to assure that they are able to fulfill the critical needs of our youth and future workforce.

The Workforce Impact of Investment in Early Childhood Education

In an age where the national talent shortage is at a critical stage, how can we afford to not engage and confront this issue? For our region, solving this challenge could offset the equivalent of over 3,000 full-time employees!

For context, this loss of engaged employee time and contribution is equivalent to all of the new job commitments announced by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in 2018 for all business attraction and expansion projects!

Just imagine what we might do in production, innovation and contributions to make our companies and communities better with the potential of 3,000 more employees plugged in at work and doing great things for their employers?

Unfortunately, this $200 million is not some other company’s problem. It’s our problem as business leaders. Big or small communities, many employees or few, industrial or office operations; it really doesn’t matter. The impacts of the challenge are callously indiscriminate.

There are no easy solutions, but there are ways to confront and mitigate the challenge before us.

Business and community leaders attending the Early Learning Summit will learn critical information that can transform how we as business leaders approach our workforce’s greatest issue—early childhood education.

The time for action is now. Will you show up? I hope to see you there because only together can we make a difference in the lives of today’s workforce, their families and future generations.

The 2019 Indiana Early Learning Summit will bring together business leaders across the state to understand the business case for investment in early childhood and ways to take action in their community.

RSVP Today!