Grant Seeks to Strategically Strengthen Regional Child Care System
LANSING, Mich. (March 13, 2023) — The Lansing Region’s vital childcare industry is taking a significant step forward thanks to a Regional Child Care Coalition Planning grant from the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC). Led by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), with Capital Area Michigan Works! (CAMW!) and the United Way of South Central Michigan (UWSCMI), LEAP received a $150,000 grant to support the Capital Area Child Care Coalition (CACCC) to connect, strengthen and expand the regional childcare ecosystem.
“In partnership with CAMW! and UWSCMI, LEAP is thrilled to have received this grant from the ECIC to accelerate our work in building a connected regional network and improving access to quality, affordable child care across the region,” said Bob Trezise, president, and CEO of LEAP (left). “LEAP is constantly working to draw good paying career path jobs to the Lansing Region. For parents of young children, increasing the number of jobs available can only create greater opportunities for economic mobility when there is child care available. If we do this right together as a region and with the state, we will continue to grow the Lansing region as one of the most innovative, prosperous, and competitive communities in America.”
The CACCC is co-led by LEAP, CAMW!, and UWSCMI. Other coalition members include business and economic development partners, organizations that fund and administrate childcare providers, and parents. The grant will help jumpstart a nearly $150,000 plan to understand the childcare needs in the region and to develop a regional action plan.
“Quality child care is critical for our communities and economy to flourish and prosper. Early childhood education is vital to address from a talent development perspective to help ensure that employers in this industry have the tools and resources needed to hire and retain talented employees, which in turn allows for more people in our communities to engage in the workforce across sectors with childcare barriers removed. Capital Area Michigan Works! could not be more excited to partner with LEAP and UWSCM on this rewarding project,” said Carrie Rosingana, CEO of CAMW! and co-lead of the CACCC.
The Lansing Region suffers from a 56% child care gap, meaning there is a higher need for child care than there are spots available. Other factors limiting access to child care include child care providers struggling to recruit and retain staff and the barriers to entering the child care provider market discouraging new entrepreneurs. The high cost of child care continues to limit options for parents, as child care costs on average 41% of a family’s income if they work full time earning minimum wage.
“UWSCMI is dedicated to improving the financial stability of ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained and Employed) families in our region. Ensuring access to quality and affordable child care improves child well-being and educational achievement along with supporting working families. We are pleased to bring this dialogue to our community, engaging family voices along with their employers,” said Michele Strasz, director of community impact Capital Area, United Way of South Central Michigan and co-lead of the CACCC.
By convening the business community, child care providers, municipal partners, education partners, and parents, the CACCC will create a space to have conversations, gain shared insight, and join forces with a shared aim of improving child care in the tri-county region. Research, including cataloging existing providers, surveying providers, and conducting parent focus groups, will inform the conversations and help the coalition make data-driven decisions.
"This grant provides a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with education and workforce partners and families, to look at our regional needs for accessible, affordable, quality child care and plan to address the gaps. Early care and education IS economic development; it expands our workforce (new jobs), supports our current workforce (supports employees) and prepares our future workforce (quality learning to develop future workforce)," said Michelle Nicholson, executive director of early childhood services Ingham Intermediate School District and Ingham County Great Start Collaborative coordinator.
Within the scope of the grant, LEAP will work with regional partners to establish the critical building blocks and fundamental strategy to guide the Lansing region’s growth in the childcare industry. Understanding the childcare needs and preferences of working families will be critical in developing and implementing a regional childcare action plan that addresses the needs and preferences of working families.
“Caterpillar Corner looks forward to the opportunity to participate in the CACC and use our voice to share our experiences,” said Santrece Roberts, owner of Caterpillar Corner and CACCC steering committee member. “Providers experience a lot of barriers entering the market and we look forward to discussing how we can find solutions together."
Child care providers and parents will be able to offer their perspectives to keep the conversation grounded in everyday needs while education, municipal, and workforce development partners can offer their overarching view of the region’s needs and trends. Public Sector Consultants (PSC) has been brought on to support the facilitation and development of CACCC.
Learn more about the Capital Area Child Care Coalition on LEAP’s website at www.purelansing.com/childcare.
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all — working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing, Michigan, region.
About Caring for MI Future
ECIC received $12.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding in August, awarded by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) as part of Caring for MI Future— a $100 million investment to help more Michigan families find quality, affordable child care in their community. Today, too many communities do not have enough child care options to meet demand. To respond, the state is investing $100 million to dramatically increase access to child care across the state and open 1,000 new, or expanded, child care programs by the end of 2024. This strategy responds to the most pressing needs facing child care entrepreneurs and creates sustainable systems to support the current and next generation of child care business owners.
To learn more about Caring for MI Future, visit www.michigan.gov/caringformifuture.
Created in 2005 to serve as a statewide leader in early childhood, ECIC collaborates to increase public and private investment in the earliest years, elevate issues affecting young children and their families, and continuously improve Michigan’s comprehensive early childhood system. Our aim is to create a future where all young children in Michigan and their families thrive. To learn more about ECIC and the Child Care Innovation Fund, please visit ecic4kids.org.
Through the Regional Child Care Planning Grant, ECIC, in partnership with MDE and MEDC, will bring economic development, employers, municipalities, parents, and early childhood leaders together in regional coalitions to understand child care facilities and workforce needs and develop a plan that meets the needs and preferences of working families, and address Michigan’s pressing need for high-quality, affordable child care.