New Apprenticeships to Recruit More Michiganders Into Child Care

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visits a child care facility. (Governor Gretchen Whitmer via Facebook)

By Kyle Kaminski

August 16, 2023

Michigan is using more than $2 million from the federal government to help more Michiganders find careers in early childhood education—and expand access to child care.

LANSING—More than $2 million in state funding announced this week is set to help expand apprenticeship opportunities for Michiganders who want to become early childhood educators.

State officials said the new state investment—which was funded using leftover cash allocated to the Department of Education from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act—is set to expand access to child care options across Michigan, largely by creating more pathways for Michiganders to become skilled, qualified, early education professionals in 65 different counties.

Most of the state funding announced this week was earmarked in $120,000 or $230,000 increments to 10 different networks affiliated with Michigan Works!, the state’s primary workforce development association, as well as to both the Child Care Network and Networks Northeast, which work to promote access to child care, education, and family support services in Michigan.

The organizations will use the cash to help finance apprenticeships, provide educational support, and increase compensation for Michiganders looking to jump into a career in early childhood education, officials said. The end goal: Curb a childcare shortage in Michigan, and provide the workforce necessary for hundreds of new child care businesses to open statewide.

“Access to quality, affordable early learning opportunities sets kids up for long-term success,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement this week. “With today’s investment we will continue taking action to help aspiring education professionals and our kids ‘make it’ in Michigan.”  

Last summer, Whitmer’s administration set a goal of opening at least 1,000 new child care programs in Michigan by the end of 2024. To date, about 800 new programs have opened and nearly 2,000 have expanded. The new apprenticeships could bring Michigan to the finish line.

State officials said the new apprenticeships are also designed to help lift the burden off child care employers by assessing the needs and resources of their business, designing a program, and working with them to identify employees who may need additional support and training. 

“Child care programs across Michigan have had to close classrooms and place families on waitlists due to the workforce shortage of early educators,” Dawne Bell, CEO of the Early Childhood Investment Corp. said in a statement announcing the funding. “Apprenticeships are a key workforce solution for many industries, and now, thanks to this partnership, apprenticeships will help build a new workforce pipeline to educate Michigan’s youngest learners.” 

More than 600 child care providers reportedly closed their doors in Michigan during the pandemic. Many of them haven’t reopened, and nearly half of Michiganders live in areas with so few child care options that researchers have labeled them as “child care deserts.”

As part the Whitmer administration’s focus on expanding child care, the state has also earmarked $100 million in federal Child Care Development Block Grant funds to improve access to affordable care options and help support current and aspiring child care business owners.

In the last year, the state has also awarded more than $21 million in facility improvement grants in 67 counties to help child care entrepreneurs renovate and expand their child care facilities, as well as more than 1,500 pre-licensure or start-up grants for those receiving child care licenses. 

Entrepreneurs can also connect with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for assistance establishing or expanding their businesses through the Caring for MI Future website.

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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