The Early Learning Center was honored to welcome Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II today for a round-table discussion. The conversation was heartfelt and personal as the Lt. Governor has twin 9 year-olds and a 3 year-old daughter, who spends her days in a center-based preschool program in his hometown. The Governor’s Office has been working diligently over the past year to elevate the support for child care and education, and have committed significant resources to increase the availability of opportunities for working families through collaboration with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.
Steepletown is grateful for the commitment of the Governor’s Office in making this a priority. On a very practical level, this commitment has proven helpful to Steepletown in our efforts to identify and train new early childhood educators through the apprenticeship program. For example, at the Early Learning Center, which is a preschool that Steepletown manages over on the southwest side of Grand Rapids, there is currently an apprentice in each of the four classrooms which has been critically important to keeping these classrooms open every day. This fact cannot be understated, as currently only about 70% of preschool classrooms are open today in Kent County due to the lack of teachers, and many other centers experience frequent classroom closings due to staff not showing up on any given day.
The Lt. Governor was able to see firsthand the impact of the state’s financial commitment to this work. He also did not miss the opportunity to visit the classrooms and meet the apprentices and teaching staff of the ELC. The children were especially eager to greet our guest and tell him of the many things they were doing that day.