North Central’s Child Care Initiative receives $50,000 grant from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation.

North Central Michigan College has partnered with the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation on a yearlong research project to provide innovative solutions to Emmet County’s child care shortage. The NCMC Child Care Initiative will provide an evidence-based plan for a sustainable child care system designed to meet the county’s needs now and in the future.

The Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation has awarded the college a $50,000 grant in support of the project. Additional funding from the Frey Foundation allowed the college to formally launch the program.

“The shortage of available child care in Emmet County presents a challenge that transcends any single agency or organization,” said NCMC President David Roland Finley. “Because of this significant gift from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, we are able to meet that challenge head-on with collaboration and creativity.”

Support for NCMC’s Child Care Initiative is well aligned with the Community Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life for all Emmet County residents.

“Having available child care is essential for families living and working here in Emmet County,” said David (DJ) Jones, Executive Director of the Community Foundation. “We are proud to support North Central’s efforts to study and identify child care solutions for our community that will have an impact now and well into the future.”

North Central has appointed a team comprised of Early Childhood Professor Jennifer Wixson, a project coordinator, and a data analyst to evaluate the feasibility and viability of more than a dozen possible models for a sustainable child care system.

“Professor Wixson’s team will conduct comprehensive data analysis,” said Sara Glasgow, North Central’s dean of liberal arts.  “They will study 12 months’ worth of data collected via surveys and focus groups with parents and employers, as well as interviews with more than 80 percent of the child care professionals in Emmet County.”

The team will identify areas for improvement and reform, Wixson noted.  

“We’re looking specifically at affordability and accessibility to care, the capacity of our local child care network, workforce opportunities and increased wages for child care professionals, and the quality of care for all children,” she said.

By November 2023, Wixson and the team will present Emmet County leaders with an implementation-ready list of sustainable solutions.

“Our local child care system has endured decades of strain, and now a pandemic,” Wixson said. “This is our opportunity to change course –– for the sake of our children, our parents, and our child care professionals –– and we’re excited to provide the roadmap for how to do it successfully.”

Child Care Data: Emmet vs. Charlevoix County