Monday is back and so am I … it's Arika. 🙃

☀️ Today's weather: Sunny with a high near 84.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Indianapolis member Laurie Herron (👋 hi, mom)!

Today's newsletter is 923 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Bill Kole.

1 big thing: Child care centers at risk of closing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Indiana is teetering on the edge of a "child care cliff" after pandemic-era federal relief funding for the industry ran out over the weekend.

Driving the news: Without intervention, nearly 50,000 Hoosier children are expected to lose child care, according to an analysis by the Century Foundation.

  • The national think tank estimates more than 1,000 Indiana child care programs could close.

Why it matters: Hoosier families stand to lose more than $100 million in earnings as a result of being forced to cut work hours or leave the workforce, and employers could lose even more from employee productivity, according to the report.

The big picture: Indiana has already a gap in capacity.

  • There are more than 500,000 Hoosier children age 5 and under, according to Early Learning Indiana, and two-thirds of them need child care so their parents can work.
  • 40% of those kids live in a child care desert, where there are only enough seats for one-third of them.

Plus: Child care is already expensive, and the loss of federal funding for providers could make it more so.

  • In Marion County, the average cost of full-time child care is more than $10,000 a year, according to Early Learning Indiana.

By the numbers: According to Brighter Futures Indiana, more than 3,300 Hoosier child care programs received stabilization grants through the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021 and 2022, totaling more than $540 million in assistance.

  • More than $132 million went to providers in Marion County.
  • Nearly $50 million went to Hamilton County providers.

Reality check: The federal funding amounted to a $24 billion Band-Aid patched over an industry that's long struggled across the nation.

What's next: If the dire forecasts prove true, millions of parents are going to be left with some hard choices.

2. New moms are working at record rates — for now

Data: U.S. Census; Note: Includes women ages 16 to 50; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The share of new moms in the Indianapolis area participating in the workforce — higher than the national average — are particularly at risk with the child care affordability crisis.

Why it matters: Motherhood often knocks women out of the labor force, at least temporarily — often slowing their career and earnings growth and contributing to the gender pay gap.

By the numbers: 71.3% of Indy women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were participating in the labor force as of 2022, per the latest American Community Survey data.

  • That's compared to 71.5% in 2021, and 63.9% in 2010.

The big picture: Nationally, the percentage of women who recently gave birth and are participating in the workforce reached a decade-plus high last year, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • 66.6% of U.S. women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were participating in the labor force as of 2022.

Driving the news: Remote and flexible work is making it easier for new moms to juggle both parenting and their careers, Axios' Emily Peck has reported.

  • In fact, the workplace gender gap is at a record low.

Between the lines: One complicating factor is the skyrocketing cost of child care, which is driven in part by a lack of supply and low caretaker pay.

What we're watching: Whether the loss of federal funding for child care facilities reverses the trend of more moms in the workforce.

Go deeper

3. Pit stop: No midseason changes here

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

👀 Lawmakers looking for ways to eliminate the state income tax didn't find many supporters at a recent committee meeting. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

⚖️ Two IMPD officers were indicted in the shooting of a man asleep in a car in his grandmother's driveway last year. (IndyStar)

🏈 For the second year in a row, IU football is making a midseason coaching change. Head coach Tom Allen fired offensive coordinator Walt Bell yesterday, less than 24 hours after a 44-17 loss at unbeaten Maryland. (Associated Press)

4. The Colts dare you to look away

Colts tight end Drew Ogletree, center, scored what turned out to be the game-tying touchdown for the Colts after the two-point conversion. (Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

However you feel about the Colts, they're not boring.

State of play: The Colts fell behind 23-0 against the Los Angeles Rams before storming back and (womp, womp) losing in overtime, 29-23, Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

💭 James' thought bubble: It's impossible to overstate how uninspiring the Colts looked during their scoreless first half as rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson completed 4 of 7 passes for 47 yards (he rushed for 56 yards, too, but also fumbled).

Yes, but: You can't look away without regretting it.

By the numbers: Richardson came alive and finished with 200 passing yards, a rushing touchdown and two touchdown throws, including game-tying completions to tight end Drew Ogletree (touchdown) and Michael Pittman Jr. (two-point conversion) in the fourth.

The bottom line: The Colts (2-2) are still in a four-way tie for first place in the AFC South.

5. Meatless Monday: Chipotle at La Margarita

Can you see how good that sauce is?! Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

👋 Arika here!

I'm going to get right to it because this is, hands down, the best thing I've eaten in the last five months of writing Meatless Mondays.

The place is perennially veg-friendly La Margarita in Fountain Square. Most of their menu can be made with a variety of seitan options, vegan chorizo or seasonal veggies.

Yes, but: While that's all good, the chipotle is great.

What to order: Chipotle, with the seitan strips. The star of the show is the most succulent seitan strips cooked with tender cactus in a creamy, chipotle sauce. It is so, so good.

  • It's served with rice, beans, guac and tortillas.

Cost: $16.

The intrigue: La Marg uses seitan from Three Carrots, which closed yesterday. The restaurant says it has enough for a few weeks while it figures out a replacement. They assured me, though, that they'll keep their meat-free friends happy.

Our picks:

🥳 Arika had a great weekend with her parents in Elkhart, celebrating all the family birthdays.

ğŸŽ§ Lindsey is listening to the new NSYNC song and crossing her fingers that a reunion tour will happen. Don't judge her.

🙌 James is back, for real!