Policy Resource

Michigan Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Feb 9, 2016

In December, 2013, Michigan became one of the six newest states to receive a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant.

Through this grant, the state directed substantial resources to support several early childhood policy priorities. Three of these priorities were: professional development, higher education, and family support.

In response to a study finding that the majority of children with high needs in child care are cared for in home-based environments, Michigan targeted many of its professional development initiatives specifically toward these providers. The state piloted the use of three types of consultants”health, family engagement, and social-emotional”to help providers improve quality. The state implemented a new parent/community approach to support home-based providers in certain communities. Infants and toddlers make up a large percentage of the children served by home-based providers, so the states efforts to improve their knowledge and skills was viewed as having the potential to significantly affect the care that very young children receive.

Michigan has worked with higher education to improve access to and infant-toddler content of credit-bearing courses. The state partnered with five community colleges to offer online Child Development Associate (CDA) credential courses, including some with infant-toddler content, which will be transferable toward an associate degree. Additionally, Michigan targeted the new classes to home-based child care providers, who serve the majority of high-need children. One of Michigan’s performance measures is the number of early childhood educators credentialed by aligned institutions; they collected the baseline data in year 1.

Michigan has initiatives to help families understand their children’s development and how they can support it. The state engaged existing Great Start Parent Coalitions to work collaboratively with other community stakeholders to widely disseminate materials about early childhood learning and development to families across the state. Michigan sought to integrate the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families strength-based framework of protective factors into their services and systems. The state is working to ensure that its Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) standards reflect the framework.

Learn more about Michigan and how other states are using RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREE’s paper, Meeting the Challenge: How the Newest Early Learning Challenge Grantees Can Meet the Needs of Infants and Toddlers found at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/state-community-policy/elc-grantees-2014.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-earlylearningchallenge/2014apr/miapr2014.pdf

Updated February 2016.

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