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Federal grant to improve Michigan's early childhood programs

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

State Education officials are using a $5 million federal grant to improve early childhood programs for Michigan children under five.

Scott Koenigsknecht is a Deputy Superintendent in the Michigan Department of Education.

He says Michigan has a variety of early childhood education programs for kids from birth to five years old.

“It doesn’t sound like a wide age span,” he says. “But when you think about the services that are provided, services that may be provided to a child who’s just born or their family, it's different than a child who’s five.”

Michigan is one of 45 states awarded funding through the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), a $250-million competitive federal grant designed to improve states’ early childhood landscape by building on existing federal, state, and local early care and learning investments.

The grants focus on three major activities: maximizing parental choice; improving transitions within early care and learning programs and with elementary schools; and improving overall quality of early childhood education programs.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) authorized the creation of a new national PDG program that fosters connections across early learning programs, and between the early learning and K-12 systems within states.

Renee DeMars-Johnson is the director of Early Childhood Development at the state Education Department.

“One the things that we wrote into the grant is the importance of family choice in what they do with their children birth to five,” says DeMars-Johnson, “and how they navigate this system that might have some opportunity for some children based on the family income or based on the children’s abilities.”

She says this grant should benefit hundreds of thousands of Michigan children. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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