Model D to launch new series covering early education and child care issues in Southeast Michigan

Model D is teaming up with the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative (SEMI ECFC) for a new reporting and engagement series focusing on the state of early education and childcare in our region. This series builds on our work to highlight early childhood development and care's vital role in supporting families and helping create thriving communities. 

Over the next two months, we'll be diving into what both parents and providers are experiencing right now, what’s working and what’s not, and who is uncovering solutions. We strive to inform our readers about the needs our early childhood system is facing and to report on innovation and support for equitable, accessible, and high-quality options. 

Top of our mind, and probably yours, is the child care crisis hitting Michigan and many places across the nation. More than 54,000 children in our state are waiting for a spot in a child care program, according to “Disappearing Day Care,” a 10-month investigation by MuckRock and a consortium of Michigan newsrooms. The research found the number of "childcare deserts" in Michigan — regions where three children compete for every slot at an in-home or group center — is nearly double previous estimates. Due to their limited childcare options, 20 counties qualify as deserts. Wayne and Macomb are among 23 counties nearly qualifying, the data says.

In addition to child care, we'll be making room to explore the larger ecosystem of early childhood, which includes topics like prenatal care, home visits, early intervention, and more. We want to tell the stories of families who rely on our region's many early childhood programs and consider what long-term funding and support providers need to ensure their success.

While families are front-and-center on these issues, the health of our early childhood system affects everyone, says Jeff Capizzano, president of the Policy Equity Group in Washington, D.C. His group works to help socially-conscience organizations, foundations, and advocates build capacity and leverage policy opportunities to increase their support for children and families in poverty. 

In this space, he says, there are three major themes. "It's early childhood as a mechanism to support child development and learning, childcare as a support for working families, and childcare as a support for local and state economies, providing access to a pool of labor that would be otherwise unavailable."

Our weekly coverage for this series will dive into early childhood investments and proposals from state and federal governments. We'll also look at staff shortages, care worker wages, and safety concerns. Amid all these challenges, we especially want to highlight people and organizations in metro Detroit who are creating innovative solutions to address these problems right in their communities. 

If you have a story you'd like to share to help us in our reporting, please reach out to Sarah Williams, the project editor on this series, at tips [at] modeldmedia [dot] com

This series is made possible by the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative.
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Read more articles by Sarah Williams.

Sarah Williams is a freelance writer and photojournalist based in metro Detroit. Her work focuses on individuals and nonprofit organizations investing in their communities through arts and culture, holistic healthcare, education and neighborhood revitalization. Follow her on Instagram @sarahwilliamstoryteller