Women’s Initiative launches tuition assistance program

Posted on November 2, 2016

On the heels of the Michigan Department of Education Office of Great Start’s report “Building a Better Child Care System” comes a brand new tuition assistance program from the Women’s Initiative at the Community Foundation of St. Clair County in partnership with St. Clair County’s Great Start Collaborative.

The study identified several areas Michigan needs to improve in the childcare system, including:

  • Making high quality childcare more accessible for lower income families.

  • Increasing spending on childcare. In 2013 Michigan’s per-child spending decreased to $336, which was the 11th lowest in the country.

  • The study highlights how critical the first thousand days of life are for a child’s intellectual and emotional development. With the majority of children under 4 years of age spending time in childcare, the system needs more support.

    How can we help improve access to quality care? One way is by providing financial assistance to local families.

    “Our hope is that this tuition assistance program will focus on those Michigan families in the gap – families with too much income to qualify for Head Start or the Great Start Readiness Programs, yet not able to make ends meet with quality childcare costs,” said Jackie Hanton, vice president of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County.

    Hanton credits the Council of Michigan Foundations for bringing the issue to the attention of the state’s community foundations.

    The Women’s Initiative identified a gap in resources available for our local 3-5 year olds whose parents are at the 251-400% of the poverty level. State and federal resources are available for families in poverty up to the 250% level.

    In addition to quality care being out of reach for many local families, we’re also seeing an alarming increase of children not ready for kindergarten.

    In St. Clair County, full-time child care costs an average of $606 per month ($7,272 annually). The average cost for infant childcare in Michigan is $10,000 a year. For families struggling to make ends meet, the cost of a high quality preschool are just too high.

    Women’s Initiative’s goal is to insure all children have the opportunity for at least one year of high quality preschool prior to entering a kindergarten program in St. Clair County.

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