PRESS RELEASE Contact: Barbara Berens,
March 13, 2023 Vibrant Futures
451-8281, ext. 227
Childcare Shortage Choking Michigan Growth
The Right Place and Vibrant Futures Plan Regional Expansion
As Michigan tackles several complex challenges constraining workforce participation and growth, two unlikely partners are teaming up with a simple, straightforward, and strategic fix: childcare. Joining forces to find creative regional solutions are The Right Place, Grand Rapids’ leading economic development organization, and Vibrant Futures, a Michigan nonprofit improving childcare access, opportunity, and quality in nearly half of Michigan counties.
“For parents, getting a job offer is like getting the ball to the 50 yard line on the field of opportunity,” said Chana Edmond-Verley, Chief Executive Officer of Vibrant Futures. “If families want to reach the end zone, they need to find child care too. To get more players on the field, childcare is as mission-critical as job training, work readiness, and transportation. Parents cannot work without it.”
With leadership and strategic guidance from Vibrant Futures and The Right Place, today begins a regional effort to boost workforce participation by expanding childcare capacity in five counties. Funding comes from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Caring for Michigan’s Future Initiative, which aims to drive creation of 1,000 new childcare programs by the end of 2024 and dramatically increase workforce participation statewide. Michigan’s Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) administers the regional planning effort statewide led by Joan Blough of ECIC’s Childcare Innovation Fund.
“Quality, affordable childcare is the backbone of our economy, and I will work with anyone to invest in childcare professionals, businesses, and facilities,” said Governor
Gretchen Whitmer, “so parents can go back to work knowing their kids are safe and cared for.”
A collaborative team from The Right Place and Vibrant Futures will assess childcare shortages in Kent, Montcalm, Mecosta, Barry, and Ionia counties through a regional economic planning lens, with an emphasis on strategic alignment, mutual reinforcement, and economic growth.
“With labor participation rates at an all-time low and key sector growth planned, this work is critically needed to unlock workforce growth,” said Victor Joaquin, Talent
Program Manager at The Right Place. “We need to face the economic realities regarding workforce constraints and address circumstances such as childcare with the same clear-sighted, level-headed thinking that we apply to other factors. Comprehensive regional talent strategies of today must include childcare as a key component to economic development.”
As part of the regional planning and action, the effort will include robust data mining, identification of gaps and root causes, alignment across sectors, leveraging of resources, and attraction of new investments, including Tri-Share, an example of one innovation. The effort has sparked the formation of the Coalition to Expand Childcare Supply in the Western Region (CECCS/WR), with growing membership from business, economic development, planning and zoning, childcare businesses, intermediaries, parents, and philanthropy. The regional kickoff meeting is March 29, 2023 for Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Barry, and Ionia.
“When we create the conditions for success, our entire community thrives,” said Edmond-Verley. “American business leaders have always achieved greatness by making sure employment conditions allow workers to contribute, earn, learn, and grow. Accessible and affordable childcare is a 21st century piece of that time-proven formula.”