Child care access more vital than ever

September 6, 2010
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I recently attended the Sandbox Party Convention, hosted by the Early Childhood Investment Corp. Seeing thousands of children, families, early childhood advocates and political leaders come together to voice their support for early childhood care and education was so gratifying.

With the coming school year upon us, our minds are even more keenly focused on the value of early childhood care and education. For the past 12 years, the Women’s Caring Program has supported disadvantaged children through the ChildCare Commitment Program. Through scholarships for quality childcare, children are nurtured while their families are able to work and/or complete their education.

But the demand is ever increasing as government cuts and difficult economic challenges continue. Research has repeatedly demonstrated the importance of preparing children before they enter school. But that can prove nearly insurmountable for many families.

According to the National Association of Childcare Resource and Referral Agencies, a recent study emphasizes once again just how difficult it can be for children to have access to quality child care and education. “Parents and the High Cost of Childcare: 2010 Update” provides average costs of child care for infants, 4-year-olds and school-age children in centers and family child care homes in every state. The average cost that parents paid for full-time care in a Michigan center ranged from more than $7,500 for a 4-year-old child to more than $9,000 a year for an infant.

The average center-based child care fees for an infant in Michigan exceeded the average annual amount that families spent on food in every region of the United States. Monthly child care fees for two children at any age exceeded the median monthly rent cost and were nearly as high as, or even higher than, the average monthly mortgage payment in every state.

For the Women’s Caring Program, the Sandbox Party Convention and studies such as the NACCRRA reinforce our passion and commitment to providing scholarships to children from disadvantaged families.

The message is clear: Child care costs are higher than ever, creating a barrier for children to participate in quality care. This negatively impacts Michigan’s children, families and the economic health of our state.

We have much work to do, but the rewards are immeasurable. Thank you for your support of our work. We look forward to expanding the ChildCare Commitment scholarship program and making a difference for Michigan’s children — one child at a time. And do keep in touch with us — we want to keep you informed of our progress!

Shelly Hendrick, CEO
Women’s Caring Program

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