Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013
LANSING, Mich. – Expanded early learning opportunities for low-income children in Michigan will give them a greater chance for success in school and life, an effort boosted today by a $51.7 million federal grant.
Michigan earned the grant through the Race to the Top Early Childhood Learning Challenge, a competition focused on improving early learning and development programs and closing the school readiness gap. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the selection today with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
The grant competition recognizes states with programs focused on increasing the number of low-income and disadvantaged children enrolled in high-quality, early learning programs.
“We know that children will be much more successful in school if they have a solid foundation for learning,” Snyder said.
“My administration has made early childhood education a priority, investing an additional $65 million this year and proposing $65 million more next year to touch families who will most benefit from these programs. The federal grants will allow us to reach even more families and help children. Michigan’s Race to the Top Award – the first ever for our state – aligns perfectly with our ambitious early childhood investments. This is not a replacement for our current and future investments, but rather a very significant addition to our efforts to give children in Michigan a great start.”
Michigan has around 182,000 children ages 3 to kindergarten entry from low-income families who will benefit from this federal grant, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said.
“This grant money isn’t going to eliminate child poverty, but it will help a lot of at-risk children get the early intervention they so vitally need,” Flanagan said. “The grant funds will be spent over four years and will help increase the number of low-income and disadvantaged infants, toddlers and preschoolers enrolled in high-quality early learning programs.”
The Snyder administration has been building a “P-20” education plan, working with schools and families from pre-school through high school and beyond so Michigan graduates are college and career ready, providing the talent that attracts and retains more and better jobs.
The governor created the Office of Great Start, headed by Susan Broman, to coordinate the state’s once fragmented early childhood efforts into a focused program that aligns, integrates and coordinates Michigan’s investments for prenatal care to children in third grade.
“The future is brighter for Michigan’s children because of the work here by Mike Flanagan and Susan Broman, Snyder said. “It’s encouraging to see their hard work and vision recognized by the federal government.”
Michigan’s proposal to the federal government included six goals aimed at helping children and families.
The state looks to increase access to high-quality early childhood programs, increase opportunities for home care providers to improve the quality of their programs and expand training, especially for home care providers.
Working with families, the state plans to ensure that more parents understand and are engaged in their child’s early learning. That includes involving more families and providers in efforts to identify and promote children’s physical, social and emotional health.
The state also is looking to build an early learning data system that will allow departments to assess programs’ values to parents and children.
The Michigan Education Department is the lead state government agency for this grant, but it will work with the Michigan Human Services Department, Michigan Community Health Department, Center for Educational Performance and Information; and the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.