Welcome to St. Mary's Child Center

St. Mary’s Child Center is a not-for-profit agency that offers two early childhood initiatives to positively impact the futures of young childrenThe Preschool Program and The Educational Outreach Program.

St. Mary’s Child Center’s mission statement is:

Based on the premise that the children we serve are inherently competent, capable, and strong, St. Mary’s Child Center:

  • Impacts preschool children in poverty — who are at life and learning risk — with the highest quality cognitive, creative, social, physical, and emotional learning experiences that will transition into a foundation for lifelong success.
  • Integrates highly effective professional educators with a proven learning philosophy.
  • Uses qualitative measures to show impact.
  • Is accountable to the children and families served, stakeholders and contributors, and the early childhood learning community.

The Preschool Program serves three to five year old children at four locations: the Thompson Building, the Gilliatte Building, Indianapolis Museum of Art and the IPS/Butler University Laboratory School.  We serve children whose families pay tuition, receive CCDF vouchers and qualify for scholarship assistance.  We welcome children of any race, color, religion, national origin or socioeconomic background.


The educators at St. Mary’s Child Center have been engaged in a study of the world-renowned schools for young children in Reggio Emilia, Italy since 2001.   We deeply embrace the values of collaboration, the strong image of the child, the environment as a teacher, children’s multiple symbolic languages, documentation as assessment and advocacy, long-term projects, the teacher as a researcher and the importance of home-school relationships.   We study the Reggio philosophy in collaboration with educators inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach around the world and we work closely with the College of Education at Butler University as partners in the Indianapolis Reggio Collaborative.

St. Mary’s is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), licensed by the State of Indiana and has attained the highest level (Level 4) on Indiana’s Paths to Quality rating scale.

St. Mary’s Child Center has a long history and mission of serving children whose families live in poverty.  We continue to live in the mission of serving children in poverty.  Currently, 93% of the children we serve live in poverty. 

The St. Mary’s Child Center community strongly believes, as indicated by research, that children who come from differing socio-economic backgrounds and work together exhibit greater academic success.  In addition, the child’s experience with diversity also facilitates the development of 21st Century skills such as collaboration, leadership, adaptability and initiative.

In light of our belief in the power of diversity for all children, beginning in 2011, St. Mary’s enrolled children whose families pay tuition at the IPS/Laboratory School and the Thompson building and now offers enrollment for families paying tuition at all four locations.

The Educational Outreach Program provides professional development opportunities for educators who want to learn about our work, especially related to our study of the Reggio philosophy. We provide seminars, tours, consultations and presentations to educators.


St. Mary’s is headed by an Executive Director who works closely with a Board of Directors.  The Board provides direction, carries out the strategic plan and is responsible for raising revenue to provide financial support.

St. Mary’s Child Center was founded in 1961.  Funding for the program is received from United Way, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, donations from individuals, corporate and endowment/foundation grants,  program fees and special events.

All revenue directly supports the children in the Preschool Program and the efforts of the Educational Outreach Program.

Every person involved with St. Mary’s Child Center – from full time staff to volunteers to Board members, Godparents and all donors – is passionately committed to providing the best possible early childhood education for ALL of the young children we serve that will result in school success and the foundation for lifetime success.

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