Our Strong Start” will help the state reach its goals of opening 1,000 new child care programs by the end of 2024 through the governor’s Caring for MI Future program
LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the new Our Strong Start program to make it easier for entrepreneurs to open new child care programs, get licensed faster, and expand access to high-quality, affordable child care for working families. The Our Strong Start, the latest step in the governor’s Caring for MI Future strategy, will be run by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) Child Care Licensing Bureau and help entrepreneurs get licensed and secure grant funding to launch their business.
“As a mom, I know the importance of high-quality, affordable child care,” said Governor Whitmer. “While we’re working to lower child care costs for families and expand access to early learning programs, like 4-year-old preschool, there are still too many working families struggling to find child care that meets their needs and budget. That’s why I’m proud that we’re taking action to make it easier for entrepreneurs to work with state government to open more child care programs across Michigan. This is the next step in our Caring for MI Future strategy that will help open 1,000 new child care programs by the end of 2024.”
Child care entrepreneurs can contact the Our Strong Start for assistance at any stage in the business development process—including before they’ve secured a facility or applied for a child care license. The Our Strong Start navigators will counsel potential business owners, help them understand and quickly navigate the licensing process, assists them in creating a business plan, and connect them with grant funds to open their child care business. The Our Strong Start navigators are also available to assist current business owners interested in expanding their child care program.
“It is critical to support child care entrepreneurs and expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Today’s announcement will help more childcare entrepreneurs develop and grow their businesses, obtain the resources they need to succeed, and connect with grant funds. It will ensure that more parents and families can access childcare in their communities. Governor Whitmer and I are proud of the work we have done to invest in childcare in communities across Michigan, and we will continue working hard to boost access to affordable childcare.”
“The Our Strong Start will reduce barriers to licensure that entrepreneurs have encountered while trying to navigate through multiple state programs,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “By making the licensing process easier and more efficient, we are demonstrating our commitment to working with individuals who are stepping up to create safe and reliable child care options for families.”
Entrepreneurs can connect with the Our Strong Start at Michigan.gov/MIchildcare. If an entrepreneur would like to meet with a navigator, they can complete a simple form and a navigator will connect with them within 48 hours.
“The Our Strong Start provided invaluable assistance in navigating the process to start my family child care business,” said Donyeal Sizemore, a child care entrepreneur in Southeast Michigan. “I’m planning my grand opening and am grateful that the Our Strong Start was there to help me every step of the way.”
“Child care entrepreneurs have asked for help starting their business and navigating the licensing process, said Mikki Godfrey, Our Strong Start Manager. We are thrilled to announce that we are here and ready to work with any Michigander who has a dream of opening their own child care business,”
In addition to working one-on-one with entrepreneurs, the Our Strong Start team will host in person and virtual events to promote the child care industry and encourage individuals to consider a career in child care. The first virtual event, “How to Open a Successful Child Care Business in Michigan,” will be at 12pm on September 15th. Anyone considering a career in child care can register at www.michigan.gov/MIchildcare.
Expanding Access to Child Care
The Our Strong Start is part of a $1.4 billion investment to expand access to quality, affordable child care for families. To date, the governor has awarded over $700 million in grants, a record amount, to nearly 6,000 child care businesses, provided bonuses up to $1,000 for 38,000 child care professionals, and launched Caring for Mi Future—a $100 million strategy to open 1,000 new child care programs by the end of 2024.
Lowering Costs for Working Families
More families are eligible for help paying for child care than you might think. To help families know if they are likely to qualify, Governor Whitmer partnered with the Michigan Department of Education and Early Childhood Investment Corporation to create an online eligibility calculator. Now families can know in less than two minutes if they could get help lower child care costs by visiting https://greatstarttoquality.org/calculator/.
To qualify for the Child Development and Care Program (commonly called the child care subsidy), families must:
- Have a child under age 13
- Need child care because they’re working or going to school
- Have a qualifying income, up to:
- $36,620 for a family of 2
- $46,060 for a family of 3
- $55,500 for a family of 4
Families can visit Michigan.gov/childcare for a complete list of reasons they may qualify for low or no cost child care and qualifying income levels for larger families.
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