A new online platform will connect essential workers to affordable childcare and bring technical assistance, personal protective equipment and other supports to all families and childcare centers that remain in operation.
The platform was recently announced by a coalition of public and nonprofit sector partners led by Hope Starts Here – Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership, the Community Education Commission and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. The City of Detroit is supporting the efforts.
“Hope Starts Here, in partnership with the City of Detroit and additional local nonprofit partners, is committed to ensuring that families and caregivers have the resources they need to support our youngest children,” said Denise Smith, Hope Starts Here’s Implementation Director. “We know that there is an evolving set of needs to address during this pandemic – and we stand ready to meet those needs head on.”
The DetroitEarlyLearning.org website will provide early childhood operators with a number of services and supports. The site is managed by the Community Education Commission and was developed in collaboration with Hope Starts Here, the City of Detroit and United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Those services and supports for early childhood operators include:
- A registry for childcare centers looking to be matched with essential workers with young children in need of their services.
- Access to individual consultations and webinars through the Early Childhood Investment Corporation to support early childhood providers seeking federal and state grant funds and small business relief funds, including additional operating funding available through the Childcare Relief Fund recently announced by Governor Whitmer.
- Access to COVID-19 testing for centers serving essential workers at City of Detroit-designated sites, as previously announced by the Mayor.
- Access to personal protective equipment and other supplies necessary for operation during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as diapers and standard supplies. This is in partnership with United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Skillman Foundation and the Max & Marjorie Fisher Foundation.
- Access to the Community Connections Bridging the Gap Response Fund, a $225,000 fund supported by The Kresge Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide small operating grants to home-based and license-exempt childcare providers serving children of essential workers. This fund builds on existing early childhood operating resources available through United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Community Response Fund.
Monica Rodriguez, the Director of Children and Youth Services for Mayor Mike Duggan, emphasized the importance of coordinated resources to ensure essential workers have access to child care and to equip child care providers to continue supporting children and families.
“We know that the essential workers who keep our city going in this trying time often have difficulty finding the childcare they need for preschool children. We know that some childcare centers have closed and all of them face increased challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic that is upending all of our lives,” said Rodriguez. “Across the city we are showing how Detroiters can come together to meet a crisis head-on.”
In addition to serving early childcare providers, the site also allows essential workers to be connected to quality, affordable childcare facilities with available slots. The application process is supported by United Way for Southeastern Michigan and Wayne Regional Educational Services Agency.
“All of the amazing people working at childcare centers are among the heroes of this ongoing crisis,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, president & CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “United Way has, and will continue to support people and organizations working on the front lines during this pandemic.”
Hope Starts Here was founded by the Kresge and W.K. Kellogg foundations in 2016 to transform early childhood education and services and make Detroit a city that truly puts children first by 2027, utilizing a framework created in a year-long engagement process involving 18,000 Detroiters. Smith was announced as its first implementation director in November 2019.
“The pandemic makes the climb far, far steeper to make this a child-centered city by 2027,” said Smith. “But we are undeterred in our commitment to children and to the city of Detroit. If anything, this crisis underscores the importance of our pledge to our children and the childcare workers and organizations that support them.”