Granholm Administration Launches Statewide Early Childhood Development Program

Contact: Heidi Hansen 517-335-6397

Capitol Dome

February 22, 2005

New Non-Profit Public Corporation to Spearhead Efforts

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today approved the formation of a new non-profit public corporation to coordinate state and local efforts to promote early childhood development activities in Michigan.

The corporation – known as the Michigan Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) – will establish standards and guidelines for early childhood development activities that will be implemented throughout the state by the ECIC in partnership with local intermediate school districts (ISDs). The effort will be funded by public and private funds and was first announced in the Governor’s State of the State address earlier this month.

"During the first 36 months of life, dramatic brain development occurs which is either aided or hindered by early childhood experiences," Granholm said today. "It is critical that we provide opportunities to stimulate and feed children’s minds by providing every child the opportunity for high-quality education and care. If the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is our job growth agency, the ECIC will be our brain growth agency."

According to Granholm, the ECIC will allow the state to more effectively focus existing early childhood efforts, and leverage public and private dollars to expand the availability of high-quality child development and childcare, including parenting education. It will bring together the public and private sectors, including government, business, civic, faith, education, and community groups to develop a long-standing, sustained focus on early childhood.

"We need to ensure that Michigan’s children receive the care that will prepare them for success in school and in life," Marianne Udow, director of the Family Independence Agency, said. "Michigan strives to be a leader in ensuring universal access to early childhood education and care, and the ECIC is the vehicle to help us reach that goal."

A 15-member executive committee that includes representatives from participating ISDs and other gubernatorial appointees will govern the ECIC. It will formulate early childhood development strategies and offer funding for local programs. At the local level, the ECIC will partner with ISDs and community groups to develop and implement strategic plans and programs based on those statewide guidelines. The ECIC will also assist local groups in seeking public and private funds for their programs.

The ECIC is being formed under the Urban Cooperation Act of 1967, with an interlocal agreement initially signed by the Family Independence Agency and the Branch ISD which has an outstanding early childhood development program in place. The Branch ISD partnership is the first of what is expected to be widespread partnerships with ISDs across the state.

According to Udow, many ISDs recognize that education begins at birth, not at age five. And, ISDs are uniquely positioned to bring stakeholders together to design and implement comprehensive early childhood systems because of their experience in administering the All Students Achieve, Parent Involvement and Education (ASAP-PIE), and Great Parents Great Start programs.

The ECIC will coordinate activities in Michigan that promote quality childcare to optimize state investments; support, sponsor, and fund partnerships with communities to promote broad-based programs that provide universal access to quality early education and care for all children from birth to kindergarten; and serve as a central statewide clearinghouse for information, resources, and best practices related to, among other things, early childhood development, educational opportunities and qualifications for child care providers, community activities that promote early childhood education and care, and parent information and support.

"Commitment from major stakeholders in the business community will be a centerpiece of the program," Granholm said. "We want to demonstrate that early childhood education is a critical investment in the economic viability of the state. I strongly urge the businesses in this great state to support the ECIC, as the children who will benefit from this corporation are the business people of tomorrow."

For more information on services available locally, go to www.michigan.gov/greatstart

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