Steepletown Neighborhood Services

Steepletown Helping Michigan Address a Dilemma

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is leading a comprehensive, statewide effort called Caring for MI Future to increase the number of licensed child care programs across the state. Caring for MI Future is a $100 million investment that will help more Michigan families find quality, affordable child care in their community by opening 1,000 new, or expanded, child care & education programs by the end of 2024.

In the Fall of 2021, Steepletown was able to expand the Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship with support from the Early Childhood Investment Corporation’s (ECIC) Childcare Innovation Fund. This has supported Steepletown’s work over this past year to further build and refine the existing apprenticeship training model.  As a result, Steepletown will soon be providing technical assistance, as a part of a technical assistance team, to organizations across the state who will receive a planning grant from the Innovation Fund, with the intention of designing ECE apprenticeships for their communities.  

The significance of this work cannot be overstated.  It has recently been shared that nearly 40% of the HeadStart Classrooms in Kent County have not opened this fall due to the lack of teachers.  This means there are a lot of three- and four-year-olds who are not being afforded the opportunity to further develop their cognitive, social-emotional, and literacy skills needed to be successful in Kindergarten and beyond. Many leaders in our community, especially in business, have also seen the impact of empty classrooms as parents struggle to show up to work every day.  It has also been said that since the waning of the pandemic, there are over 100,000 women who have not re-entered the workforce in Michigan due to the lack of child care & education.  

The ECE apprenticeship is providing one strategy that can help address this current dilemma in our community and across the state.   For those of you reading this and wondering how you can further help, please continue to follow Steepletown’s website and/or Facebook for updates in this important work.  For those who want to help fill the need and become an early childhood educator, the ECE apprenticeship is a great way to get started!!

Dick Bulkowski

Dick Bulkowski

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