Early Learners and Care

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Guidance and Considerations for Child Care within Classrooms for Children Ages 6 weeks through 5 years During the COVID-19 State of Emergency

  Governor Gretchen Whitmer has reached out to Intermediate School Districts (ISDs), local education agencies, and the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to assist Michigan’s essential workforce (e.g., medical staff, emergency responders, and child care workers) in finding child care during this state of emergency. ISDs will be working with their partners, including local education agencies, public and private child care providers, Head Start/Early Head Start and other public preschool programs, and others to achieve this goal.

Executive Order No. 2020-16 allows for expanding child care access to children in licensed settings service children ages 0-12. This guidance document, prepared by members of the department’s early childhood team, is meant to assist the education fields academic and non-academic personnel and its child care partners with the various considerations of meeting the needs of a mixed-age group of young children, ages 6 weeks through 5 years, from a child-centered philosophy during this state of emergency. The guidance document can be found here.


About The Office of Great Start

The Office of Great Start has been charged with ensuring that all children birth to age eight, especially those in highest need, have access to high-quality early learning and development programs and enter kindergarten prepared for success. Then-Governor Rick Snyder outlined a single set of early childhood outcomes against which all public investments will be assessed:

  • Children born healthy;
  • Children healthy, thriving, and developmentally on track from birth to third grade;
  • Children developmentally ready to succeed in school at the time of school entry; and
  • Children prepared to succeed in fourth grade and beyond by reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

In 2013, the Office of Great Start engaged stakeholders across the state in development of Great Start, Great Investment, Great Future: The Plan for Early Learning and Development in Michigan. This comprehensive plan contains six recommendations and numerous priority action items for advancing early learning and development.

Great Start, Great Investment, Great Future: The Plan for Early Learning and Development in Michigan

Great Start, Great Investment, Great Future Report (PDF)
Great Start, Great Investment, Great Future Appendices (PDF)
Early Childhood Program Inventory 2013 (PDF)
Early Childhood Program Inventory 2015 (PDF) 

Building a Better Child Care System Cover

Report: Building a Better Child Care System

In late 2015 and early 2016, the Office of Great Start partnered with Public Sector Consultants to gather input on the state of child care in Michigan. The final report Building a Better Child Care System: What Michigan Can Do to Help More Parents and Children Access Quality Care, is now available and contains results and recommendations for improving access to quality child care.

Report: Changes in Michigan's Child Care Landscape

Across Michigan, families rely on child care providers to offer high-quality early learning and care for their children while they work and go to school. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) commissioned Public Sector Consultants (PSC) to conduct a study to better understand how the child care market has changed over time – and whether a decline in licensed providers was related to a decline in the number of children in a community.

Changes in Michigan's Child Care Landscape (full report)

Child Care Provider Analysis by County


Core Knowledge and Core Competencies for Early Care and Education
Michigan’s newly revised Core Knowledge and Core Competencies (CKCC) define what adults who work with young children need to know, understand, and be able to do in order to ensure that children have the best possible environments, experiences, and relationships in which to grow and learn.  The State Board of Education approved the Michigan Core Knowledge and Core Competencies for the Early Care and Education Workforce at their November 2014 meeting.  The related documents are below:

Revised Standards 
The State Board of Education (SBE) approved revisions to the following standards documents on March 12, 2013. The Early Childhood Standards of Quality for Infant and Toddler Programs (ECSQ-IT), Early Childhood Standards of Quality for Prekindergarten(ECSQ-PK), and the Michigan Out-of-School Time (MOST) Standards of Quality listed here are the most up-to-date versions available.  The SBE also adopted the Statement and Guidance on Developing a Policy for Prevention of Suspension and/or Expulsion of Children Birth through Age 8 in Early Education and Care Programs.

Parent Resources for the Early Years
Great Start Readiness Program Website
If you are a parent interested in learning more, see the Great Start Readiness Program brochure or use this map to find a program in your area.

Great Start to Quality helps parents find the best child care and preschool settings for their children and helps providers and educators improve the care they give to children.

Transition to Kindergarten Parent Guides address many of the questions that parents have as they look forward to their child's Kindergarten years.

Don't worry. But don't wait. If you think your infant or toddler may have a developmental delay, contact Early On® at 1-800-Early-On or explore resources at the Early On website.

Build Up helps parents and their children, ages 3 through 5, get additional educational support as they begin and continue to learn the skills needed to enter kindergarten.

Great Start to Quality Advisory Committee

The Office of Great Start (OGS) has identified stakeholders to engage in discussion around Great Start to Quality, the state’s quality rating and improvement system.  Acknowledging new data, anecdotal feedback from providers and parents and national best practices emerging, the input from these stakeholders will help OGS determine whether or not we need to make adjustments to the Great Start to Quality rating system that help us focus on quality improvement and not just ratings. 

These stakeholders will join in a series of discussions as Great Start to Quality Advisory committee members.  As advisory committee members their role will include assisting in the development of stakeholder engagement questions and engaging in discussions that include the review of data and stakeholder feedback to form a series of recommendations for the Office of Great Start to consider as we move forward.

As OGS continues to invest in Great Start to Quality we strive to:

  • Support programs and providers to insure each young child in Michigan has an opportunity for a high-quality learning experience;
  • Provide families with information about program quality to assist them in making informed choices;
  • Support families to be engaged in their child’s development and learning;
  • Align program standards with early learning and practitioner standards; 
  • Assesses program quality comparably across provider types (publicly and privately funded, centers and family child care homes, tribal programs, license exempt, nursery school, school based) throughout the state;
  • Support the workforce through clear pathways and resources to continuously improve their skills, qualifications and knowledge as responsive early care and education professionals;
  • Insure programs and providers have supports to continuously improve the quality of their early learning setting and meet their data informed progress goals.

View the Great Start to Quality Advisory Committee Chart or Map for more information about stakeholders and the regions that are represented. For more information, contact Lisa Brewer Walraven by email or phone: 517-241-9492 with questions related to the Great Start to Quality Advisory Committee.


OGS Community Learning Webinars

The Office of Great Start offered six learning community webinars. Each webinar was focused on a topic of interest to providers and other stakeholders in the early childhood community. Use the links below to view the presentation resources.

Grants and Programs Banner 

Michigan's Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five

21st Century Community Learning Centers

Child Development and Care

Early Childhood Special Education

Early On© Michigan

Great Start Readiness Program

Michigan Interagency Coordinating Council

Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge

Section 32p Block Grant

Early Literacy Grants  

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