Addressing the Strain on Michigan’s Child Care System
Michigan’s child care system was strained prior to the pandemic and over the past 11 months, child care providers and families have been faced with more challenges due to COVID-19. When it comes to child care in the pandemic, a new survey released by the Michigan Women’s Commission (MWC) provides insights on the perspectives of Michigan families with young children.
Early findings of the survey show a shift in child care with 37.5% of respondents reporting they are providing care inside of the home due to health and safety concerns related to the pandemic. When asked about the future of their child care plans post-pandemic, nearly half of the respondents reported a desire to send their children to licensed child care centers.
Respondents said that in order for them to feel comfortable sending their children to out-of-home child care centers they would want the following:
• Rapid testing at center-based and home-based child care.
• Implementation of safety protocols.
• Reduced cost of child-care.
• Widespread vaccine implementation.
• Reduced the spread of COVID-19.
• Increased communication from the school and government about COVID-19 cases.
Although the survey did not ask specifically, approximately 2.2% of respondents indicated that they had to leave the workforce to take care of their children and approximately 1.7% of respondents indicated that their partner had to leave the workforce to care for their children.
The latest data from Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) shows that over 6,200 child care providers throughout Michigan remain open or have reopened and they have the licensed capacity to serve more than 265,000 children, though social distancing precautions may mean fewer slots are available. Of providers who have responded to ECIC, fewer than 350 licensed child care providers report that they remain closed or temporarily closed.
This is a significant change from last July when CMF reported more than 3,000 centers were closed at that time due to the pandemic.
For child care centers that have been operating during the pandemic many have faced higher costs associated with the technological and health and safety changes needed to support young children’s attendance.
At the state level, the Michigan Department of Education has administered the Child Care Relief Fund to support child care providers and Michigan families. The fund deployed $215 million in federal funds to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on the child care system. Six rounds of grants were available to providers, which included funds to make care more affordable for families through tuition credits.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer has outlined how the state can best support Michigan’s young children and their families moving forward through recommendations in her budget proposal.
“High-quality, affordable child-care is critical to the success of Michigan’s children, families and economy,” Whitmer said. “To give working parents a much-needed boost, my executive budget recommendation invests $370 million to significantly lower childcare costs, in some cases down to zero. This game-changing investment in early learning will provide access to quality, affordable childcare for 150,000 additional families. It immediately and directly helps parents continue working while giving them the peace of mind to know that their kids can continue to grow and learn.”
The Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) recently provided CMF members exclusive briefings on the governor’s state budget. The Early Education State Budget Briefing highlighted budget changes that would expand opportunities for high-quality and accessible child care through a $370 million investment by the state:
• Temporarily increasing the income eligibility threshold from 150% to 200% through 2022.
• Temporarily waiving out-of-pocket co-pays through 2022.
• 10% increase in hourly rates for child-care providers.
The Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative (SEMI-ECFC) which is composed of several CMF members and whose goal is to strengthen early care and education in Detroit, across Southeast Michigan and statewide, sent a letter last week to Governor Whitmer. The collaborative expressed gratitude for her administration’s efforts to support Michigan’s early childhood system and outlined immediate and long-term needs that will be necessary to support Michigan families.
The collaborative highlighted the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the $292 million it allocates for Michigan’s child care system, suggesting the flexibility of the act can offer immediate short-term relief to parents/guardians and providers while setting up the system for long-term success. The recommendations outlined by the collaborative are based on their experiences working with providers in their communities and lessons learned from the allocation of the early care and education funding appropriated through the CARES Act.
Recommendations for Immediate Relief
• Offset the cost of child care for families who have lower incomes with income and racial equity in mind.
• Target the providers most in need of funding and ensure that the calculation used to determine the grant amount covers the fixed cost of care.
• Focus funding dedicated to providers not in the child care subsidy system to providers in high-need zip codes and home-based providers.
• Consider using flexible funding from other parts of the act to support the early care and education system.
Recommendations for Long-term Innovations
• Decentralize distribution of child care funds through local, neighborhood-based hubs with a better understanding of the local context, coordinate shared services and provide targeted technical assistance to operators.
• Leverage flexibilities in federal funding to model Head Start and Early Head Start Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) models of funding, using a contract funding that will guarantee a specified number of reimbursed seats for operators.
• Create a state early childhood infrastructure fund to address the dire need of Michigan’s early childhood facilities.
• Provide behavioral health funding directly to early childhood operators, school districts and community organizations, who can then contract with behavioral health providers to provide services.
In the letter, the collaborative offered to serve as a resource to the governor’s office in this work.
The governor’s budget is now with the Legislature for consideration.
Read the MWC Survey.
The Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative is comprised of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Ballmer Group, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the PNC Foundation.
New Report Offers Recommendations to Alleviate Poverty in Michigan
A new report released by the Michigan Poverty Task Force outlines recommendations to support individuals and families in our state who live in low-income households.
The task force, led by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), consists of leaders from 14 state departments, with input from the Legislature, philanthropy and community organizations who have worked together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a comprehensive anti-poverty agenda for Michigan.
The new report is part of the task force’s work as it's charged with researching, identifying, recommending and implementing strategies for reducing poverty in Michigan, recommending changes in Michigan law and policy-related changes to fight poverty in Michigan and connecting and collaborating with the public and key stakeholders in carrying out this important work.
One in five children in Michigan live in poverty and according to the latest data from United Way’s ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Report, 43% of Michiganders earn less than what's required for the basic cost of living.
In the report the task force outlined 35 recommendations to alleviate poverty in Michigan:
• Benefits: Commission a comprehensive study on outcomes for former state assistance recipients and adopt a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) shelter stipend.
• Economics: Increase access to Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit; support and incubate children’s savings accounts; expand the housing choice voucher pilot program between the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority and the Michigan Department of Corrections.
• Criminal Justice: Expand apprenticeship opportunities for individuals who are incarcerated; and divert people who have behavioral health needs away from the justice system.
• Health, Safety and Housing: Create child support pass-through to families who receive or have received cash assistance; and fund the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund.
• Education: Expand the Great Start Readiness Program; expand Early Childhood Home Visiting and Maternal-Infant Health programs; increase income eligibility for child care; and expand school breakfast and breakfast-after-the-bell programs.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer included a $1 million appropriation in her state budget recommendations to further the task force’s research and planning that will help lead the way towards improving the effectiveness of state benefit programs and address the barriers limiting individuals’ ability to access these programs.
“The economic impact and hardships this pandemic has imposed on so many Michiganders only makes the work of this task force more critical,” Whitmer said. “These recommendations will help us ensure that Michigan families have access to the support they need. I look forward to working across the aisle and with our many stakeholders to implement the recommendations that have the biggest impact across our state.”
The report offered bright spots within this work, highlighting the accomplishments of the state’s anti-poverty efforts with examples of policy adjustments, legislation and pilots within the same five main policy groups.
Achievements at a glance:
• Expanded support for syringe service programs: In 2020, syringe service programs have expanded from four sites to 61 sites.
• The 10 Cents a Meal Farm-to-School pilot program expansion: A state pilot program that provides schools with up to 10 cents per meal in match funding to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables and dry beans.
• Michigan Reconnect Funding: The Legislature allocated $30 million in the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget to provide scholarships to adults seeking post-secondary education.
• Skills to Work: Developed to serve as a digital hub to connect residents with online learning opportunities and other training resources.
• Michigan Clean Slate Legislative Package: In October 2020, Governor Whitmer signed a package of bills to greatly expand the number of people who are eligible to have felony and misdemeanor convictions expunged and automatically hide certain convictions from public view.
• Expansion of unemployment benefits amid the pandemic.
• MI Tri-Share Child Care pilot: $1 million pilot funded in the 2021 budget, employers in three Michigan communities will share one-third of their employees’ child care costs, with the other two-thirds coming from the employees and state government.
The task force hopes that the report and the ideas within will serve as a roadmap for a discussion about how the state can better leverage existing resources, create pathways to new resources and build partnerships with external stakeholders to better serve Michiganders.
Read the new report.
Learn more about the Michigan Poverty Task Force.
Youth Advisory Committee Deploys Grants to Advance Racial Equity
The latest round of grants from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area’s (CFHZ) Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) supports several organizations working to create a more inclusive, and equitable community.
According to CFHZ, their YAC is looking to advance racial equity in the Holland and Zeeland area by supporting organizations that are working to address racial inequity and implicit bias in the community, and are centering the voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community members.
In 2020, the YAC committed $25,000 of its grantmaking for youth racial equity efforts as part of CFHZ’s efforts to make progress towards racial equity in the community.
“CFHZ doesn’t presume to have the answers to the difficult and complex problem of racism, but we believe it is of utmost importance to stand alongside our community in searching for those answers and to do our part to support this process with financial resources,” Jessica Lynch, donor service associate at CFHZ and Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys, director of community impact/college success coach at CFHZ said.
The murder of George Floyd and the national reckoning for racial justice led the YAC to have conversations about the racial inequities and racism that exist in their own community.
“When the CFHZ board began considering how we use our flexible community’s endowment resources to respond, our YAC wanted to play a meaningful role at this moment and committed $25,000 of YAC’s 2020 funding for this purpose,” shared Lynch and Jenkins Leys.
As a result of these efforts, the YAC awarded $59,449 to seven organizations working to advance racial equity. The funding will directly support organizations in the following programs and initiatives:
• CultureWorks Transformative Art & Design Academy: Support scholarship costs for students of color who participate in classes.
• Holland Historical Trust's Holland Museum: Implement the Cultural Lens Series, a robust year-long programming that includes topics that connect individuals to cultural themes including racial diversity, homelessness and LGBTQ+ advocacy.
• Hope College: Prepare a literacy workshop in which elementary and middle school students of color will participate in a group read and then workshop with professionals to create literary or artistic projects to celebrate their identities.
• Ottawa Area Intermediate School District – Instructional Services Department: Provide programs that expose white educators to racial diversity, equity and inclusion resources through virtual courses and resources.
• Escape Ministries: Driver’s training scholarship program which will increase access for students of color to opportunities, help families manage transportation dilemmas and decrease negative interactions with police officers for youth.
• Maple Avenue Ministries: Support BIPOC children who are adopted by providing their families with culturally appropriate items.
• Ottawa Area Intermediate School District in partnership with Holland/Zeeland Schools: Provide bilingual welcome kits to families who are immigrants as they enroll their child or children in K-12 schools.
CFHZ said its YAC will continue to invest in young leaders and their DEI journeys and work to elevate BIPOC voices in grantmaking decisions.
“Our YAC has committed to using a DEI lens when reviewing grant proposals throughout the year by elevating voices of marginalized youth and using local data disaggregated by race and other key variables to better understand the greatest needs of young people in our community,” Lynch and Jenkins Leys said. “Youth grantmakers are uniquely positioned to engage in this work and have an important role to play in ensuring that funding decisions reflect the lived experiences of youth in our community."
When recruiting new YAC members, current committee members are also focused on welcoming new members who are able to provide different perspectives through their different lived experiences.
Learn more about CFHZ's YAC
Ruth Mott Foundation Extends Commitment to Focus on North Flint Through 2025
Content excerpted and adapted from a foundation press release.
The Ruth Mott Foundation announced last week it has extended its commitment to focus on north Flint for at least another five years.
Launched in 2016, the foundation’s place-based strategy focuses on north Flint residents’ top four priorities—youth, public safety, economic opportunity and neighborhoods— which the foundation says were chosen and reaffirmed by hundreds of community members at forums across the northern half of the city.
For the next five years of the plan, the foundation will continue to seek feedback from residents on those priorities and themes within, including blight elimination, neighborhood centers and job training, among others.
“We knew that shifting to a more focused place-based approach in Flint would require a long-term commitment—and that was before the water crisis and before COVID-19,” Raquel Thueme, president, Ruth Mott Foundation said. “As we renew our commitment to north Flint, we pledge to continue listening to the people who live and work here and directing our resources within the neighborhoods and priorities that need them the most.”
Since October 2015, when the foundation started phasing in the north Flint strategy, more than $28 million in grants have been awarded to community programs, with most going to the youth and neighborhood priority areas.
Berston Field House was one of the first programs supported under the foundation’s north Flint strategy in 2016. Since then, the Ruth Mott Foundation has granted $510,000 through the United Way of Genesee County for Berston. The historic north Flint community center has attracted additional funds to be able to hire additional staff, build a playground and develop a fundraising plan.
Other highlights include:
• Youth development programs outside of school hours. The foundation has funded 40 different north Flint youth programs – ranging from those that serve hundreds of participants to smaller more intensive programs – that provide safe development opportunities for youth when they’re not in school.
• Blight elimination. In one example of a blight elimination initiative, the number of north Flint parks adopted and used has increased with the foundation’s funding to the Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission. About 39 north Flint parks are adopted annually, and close to 1 million pounds of garbage and yard waste have been collected as part of the programs since 2016 – just one indication of the parks and gateway gardens’ increased use and maintenance. New playgrounds, picnic tables, and sports amenities have been installed in many parks with the foundation’s funding and several other sources of support.
• Neighborhood hubs. Foundation grants have helped eight community centers open and/or operate in neighborhoods across north Flint. The hubs have seen their sources of support increase and their collective revenue more than double since 2016. Hubs include: Berston, Asbury Community Development Corp., Flint Development Center, Latinx Technology & Community Center, Neighborhood Engagement Hub, St. Luke NEW Life Center, Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village and Urban Renaissance Center.
Learn more about Ruth Mott Foundation’s focus on north Flint.
Celebrating Dave Lindberg and His 25 Years with CMF
After 25 years of service as a dedicated, highly knowledgeable leader within our Michigan community of philanthropy, Dave Lindberg is retiring this Friday, or as we say at CMF, Dave will be “graduating.”
For more than two decades as CMF’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO), Dave has shared his deep expertise, provided technical assistance and served as a thought partner to members in all areas of finance and operations.
Reflecting on his time at CMF, Dave shared that working with CMF members has given him the most satisfaction.
“That’s without a doubt what has kept me here as long as I’ve been here,” shared Dave. “I could’ve gone anywhere and done the financial work but it’s working with members that was really unique for a finance person.”
Dave shared that his time at CMF has flown by and he remembers his start at the organization 25 years ago.
“I was hired by Dottie Johnson and I learned a lot working for her in the first five years,” shared Dave. “I truly value what I learned from her in my early years about philanthropy."
Post-graduation, Dave is looking forward to spending more time enjoying outdoor sports and traveling. First, he’s headed to Texas with his summers to be spent in Oregon and Hawaii.
“My first passion is to spend as much time on the water as I can,” shared Dave. “I’m going to chase the winds and waves around the country.”
We wish Dave all the best as he begins this next chapter. The CMF Board of Trustees hosted a community celebration for Dave during the Annual Members Meeting at our 48th Annual Conference last October. CMF staff looks forward to celebrating Dave this week and as we all share our gratitude for his outstanding leadership.