Educare Flint and partners lead charge for early childhood policy change in Michigan

University of Michigan-Flint, in partnership with Educare Flint, hosted the inaugural 2018 Michigan Early Childhood Policy Summit on April 9.

The summit brought together more than 200 early childhood champions, including elected officials, early learning practitioners, parents, policy experts and business leaders. The aim of the summit was to help facilitate the creation of a statewide early childhood policy plan, as well as to explore goals to address early childhood issues, and improve early care and education in Michigan.

Educare Flint is the newest school in the Educare Network, but is quickly getting involved in early childhood advocacy and policy–a pillar of the Educare model and an essential avenue for improving access to quality early learning across the country.

“Despite recent advances and investments, early childhood education and development continues to face serious challenges,” said Denise Smith, executive director for Educare Flint and for the Flint Early Childhood Collaborative. “Model programs, studies and research consistently demonstrate the life-long value of high-quality early experiences for young children and their families. And yet, education policies and administration and budget constraints continue to under invest, misalign or put at-risk for defunding this critical foundation for student success in later years of schooling and in life.”

She added that, “The right mix and level of investments and alignment of resources, both federal and state, are not just the right things to do for young children and families but necessary actions for the well-being of our communities and our nation.”

Smith is hopeful for positive change, as she explained in an op-ed published in Bridge Magazine about the Summit, “We learned that although our child outcomes [in Michigan] are nowhere near where we need them to be right now, we are starting to see some gains across the board in the activities and resources necessary to make substantial positive gains.”

Smith encouraged attendees and readers “to be emboldened by these small victories so that we can take things to the next level.”

View photos from the Summit: