A lack of child care, specifically quality child care that enables parents to thrive at work and children to do the same while mom or dad are away, is behind a project called the
Michigan Children's Chamber of Commerce
Run by Minnesota-based nonprofit First Children's Finance, the Detroit-based Michigan Children's Chamber of Commerce provides financial and business development assistance, mentoring and more to high-quality child care businesses serving low- to moderate-income families in Michigan. It can offer loans and licensing assistance and other services to start-ups and established businesses alike. To join the chamber or obtain more information, check out this site.
The Chamber's focus cities at this point are Detroit, Pontiac and Inkster, but any Michigan resident, whether parent or current or prospective child care provider, can work with or get advice and guidance from the chamber.
Currently, small business clinics are being offered to child care businesses in those focus cities, where child care service needs are most dire. The goal is to offer service to 200 child care businesses by September 2012.
A $50,000 grant from PNC Financial's PNC Foundation
helped establish the Michigan Children's Chamber of Commerce in September and the reason for the donation was to help reverse a trend that saw child care businesses closing, leading to a shortage of spaces for children.
“Child care businesses struggle to meet expenses while keeping tuition low enough for families to afford,” Monica Duncan, Michigan state director of First Children’s Finance, says in a statement announcing the donation. “The declining number of child care businesses is a significant problem for working families juggling employment obligations and child care responsibilities. ”
The shortage can put families in the position of relying on unaccredited or unlicensed child care situations, some of them unstimulating at best and unsafe at worst.
“Low-quality care in the first few years of life can have a long-lasting impact on a child's learning and behavior,” Skillman Foundation
President & CEO Carol Goss says. “Quality care helps a child to develop a strong mind, body and spirit through a variety of experiences. Teacher education and specialized training, teacher wages, child-to-teacher ratios, teacher turnover and an administrator’s prior experience all contribute to the level of care a child receives. ”
Besides financial support and other guidance, Michigan Children’s Chamber members can participate in a variety of business mentoring activities based on their interests and expertise, such as accounting, business plan development, staff training, quality measurement, event planning, beautification projects and other aspects of business operations.
“The Detroit Regional Chamber has a clear focus on three priorities: regional collaboration, economic development and improving education, particularly in Detroit,” Detroit Regional Chamber
President & CEO Sandy K. Baruah says in the statement about the establishing grant for the chamber. “The Michigan Children’s Chamber promotes both economic development and education improvement. We are pleased to support this effort. ”
Ric DeVore, PNC regional president for Detroit and Southeast Michigan, says the Michigan Children's Chamber of Commerce follows PNC's mission to early childhood education.
“A significant body of research over the past 40 years supports the critical importance of quality, early education – starting with preschool – to reduce dropout rates and poverty while improving the ability to succeed in a knowledge-based economy,” he says.
Source: Monica Duncan, Michigan State Director First Children's Finance
Writer: Kim North Shine