A Community Effort

Emerging Strategies to Improve Early Childhood Outcomes in Elkhart County

More than 50 percent of Elkhart County’s children arrive at kindergarten without the necessary tools for success. This initiative is focused on building a comprehensive, systems-based approach to helping children succeed.

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Our Organizational Sponsors

With effort and collaboration, we can build a system supporting children under age 6 and the families who raise them so that every child is prepared when they enter elementary school.

A group of organizational sponsors has come together to work collaboratively:

Building Strong Brains Organizational Sponsors

Latest News

Celebrating Collective Opportunities

Beacon Health System received a $5.4 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration for the Healthy Start Initiative: Eliminating Disparities in Perinatal Health. The Healthy Start Initiative will aim to improve birth outcomes, promote...

Convening and connecting across the network

The Building Strong Brains Coalition continues to strategically learn together, develop, and implement action strategies, as well as identify ways to overcome barriers to progress. These diagrams show how the three action team focus areas are evolving to be more...

Collaborating on a checklist

Caitlin Wynne, a member of the Community Supports for Children and Families Action Team who works as a school social worker at Bristol Elementary, reached out to ask if the Building Strong Brains network had a kindergarten readiness tool for public use. Caitlin was...

News from the teams

Communications Support Team Surveyed the community to learn about Elkhart County early childhood messaging Conducted a branding workshop Launched social media. Follow Building Strong Brains on Facebook Developing and planning a website refresh Data Support Team...

Networking events

Family Child Care Professionals   Family Child Care Professionals had their first networking meeting in April with the goal of building a dynamic network for professionals who understand the unique challenges and provide support, through training, resources, and...

Upcoming events

FREE Professional Development Opportunity: Intentional Teaching (earlylearningindiana.org) IU Early Childhood Center at the Indiana Institute of Disability and Community is hosting There is Always Hope: 2024 Early Childhood Relational Health Webinar Series. This...

Overcoming Challenges

Over the coming decade or more, community partners will help parents overcome challenges as they raise their children.

In September 2021, those leading the initiative started meeting with Tamarack Institute, which leads systems-level work in Canada to fight poverty. The tools and processes from that work can be applied to this area in Elkhart County. Children need security, enrichment and time, and families need the ability to provide these for their children. Over the coming decade or more, Elkhart County will create systems that help all children who enter kindergarten be prepared for success.

Since May 2022, more than 50 parents have come to listening sessions to help leaders better understand the challenges they face in raising children. Three focus groups have been working to study Elkhart County’s approach to Maternal & Child Health, Support for Young Families, and High-Quality Childcare & Learning Environments.

To learn more about these action teams, download this PDF.

Our Mission

With effort and collaboration, we can build a system supporting children under age 6 and the families who raise them so that every child is prepared when they enter elementary school.

The “Theory of Change”

The “theory of change” that undergirds this work is that if children and mothers have  positive health outcomes, if children have  access to safe and stimulating environments, and if families have the resources they need to support children’s positive development then the community’s children will enter kindergarten poised for success. The effort is being called “Building Strong Brains: Elkhart County’s Early Childhood Initiative.”

Research tells us:


Brains are built rapidly in the earliest stages of life.


This construction process is shaped by resources available to kids, families, and communities.


Early brain architecture sets a lasting foundation for children’s physical health and overall wellbeing.


Back-and-forth, “serve-and-return” interactions and responsive relationships build young brains and bodies.


When our policies channel severe stress into the lives of adults, “serve-and-return” interactions can break down.

We invite you to join us in this work

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Career Opportunities

Currently, there are no open positions available. Please check back soon for updates.