ECIC and Women's Caring Program Partner to provide Early Start Scholarships

LANSING, Mich. — The Women’s Caring Program, the Early Childhood Investment Corp. and the state’s Office of Great Start today announced  a partnership to award 200 Early Start scholarships for infants and toddlers (ages 0 through 2) from low-income, working families for quality child care. 

“Children grow and learn more from birth to age 3 than during any comparable period in their lives,” said Rachele Downs, board chair of the Women’s Caring Program, a Michigan public charity which supports access to early care and education for young children from low-income, working families.  “By age 3, a child in poverty hears 30 million fewer words than a child from a middle-income home. There is a direct correlation between the quality of early childhood care and education and the future economic independence of children with access to these programs.

Early Start scholarships advance both the state’s education and workforce development efforts. The return on investment in quality early care and education – to the child, the family, our workforce and to society – can’t be beat, by any measure.”

The Early Childhood Investment Corp. is providing $700,000 for Early Start scholarships as part of the state’s Child Care Development Funds. The Women’s Caring Program, a statewide program known for its expertise in the administration of financial scholarships for quality early care and education, is administering the Early Start program.

 “The Early Childhood Investment Corp. shares the Women’s Caring Program’s goal of making quality child care available to all families in Michigan, not just those who can afford it,” said Judy Samelson, CEO of the  Early Childhood Investment Corp., a publicly owned nonprofit charged with building and coordinating Michigan’s early childhood development system. “Learning begins at birth, and these scholarships will help ensure that more children get the care and learning they need to succeed not only in school, but in life.”

Families must meet income guidelines. For a family of four, for example, total household income must be between $28,416 and $41,032. Eligible families may receive 40 percent of the annual cost of childcare and early education for one child per family, up to a maximum of $2,880 for one year.

Research shows U.S. parents pay on average $9,000 a year for quality full-time infant care – exceeding the average amount spent on food. Helping low-income families with that cost burden can help foster children’s success in school and in life, potentially breaking the cycle of poverty.

“Quality child care for infants and toddlers is the most expensive kind of care, especially for hardworking Michigan families struggling to get by,” said Lisa Brewer Walraven, director of child development and care in the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Great Start. “Because of the very high cost, this kind of care is often, sadly, unattainable.

“The Early Start scholarship specifically targets this age group and helps make sure quality child care isn’t out of reach for working families.”

Early Start scholarships can be used only at child care providers and programs licensed or registered through the state.  For more information on Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s quality rating and improvement program for child care and preschool, go to www.greatstarttoquality.org.   For a searchable database to find quality child care and preschool, go to www.greatstartCONNECT.org.

Applications for Early Start scholarships, as well as ChildCare Commitment scholarships, are available at www.WomensCaringProgram.org

About Women’s Caring Program:  The Women's Caring Program is a Michigan-based public charity, providing financial support to children from low-income working families for quality childcare and early childhood education for 15 years. Its signature program, ChildCare Commitment, is the only statewide program – serving families in 81of Michigan’s 83 counties – that provides this gap funding assistance to families who are not eligible for public assistance. Helping early in the life of a child with quality care and education and boosting childhood learning opportunities can help break the cycle of poverty by promoting academic achievement among low-income children.

About Early Childhood Investment Corp.: The ECIC is an independent, publicly owned nonprofit working to help Michigan rebuild its economy through effective early childhood development.

About Michigan’s Office of Great Start: The Office of Great Start was created through an Executive Order and is charged with the administration of Michigan’s public early childhood programs to ensure alignment, consolidation and/or integration of early childhood funding and related programs around meeting the Governor’s P-8 outcomes.

CONTACT:     Sharon Emery, Truscott Rossman, semery@truscottrossman.com, 517.896.7075                                                     Maureen McNulty Saxton, PR Edge, PR-Edge@comcast.net, 517.899.5513