Leelanau News and Events

Just-Launched Startup Intends To Bring More Childcare Options To The County

Feb. 2, 2022

The Leelanau Early Childhood Development Commission is officially launching an initiative to increase the number of early childcare facilities in Leelanau County. The Infant & Toddler Childcare Startup (ITCS) will provide funding to assist new child care providers in all aspects of licensing, education, facility upgrades, and basic business needs. It will also provide professional assistance with business-building skills including banking, accounting and record-keeping.

Funds for the initiative came from a $318,000 grant from the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, as previously reported in the Leelanau Ticker. It will allow startups up to $12,000 for expenses required to establish a quality childcare business. Each new provider will be assigned a personal coach and a business coach to help them navigate the startup process and create a facility that will meet or exceed State of Michigan requirements. In addition, grant funding will be available for those operating existing childcare facilities who wish to expand their operations.

The shortage of child care is a challenge nationwide. In Leelanau County the need is acute, and has been exacerbated by the fact three such facilities closed last year. Working conditions for such programs are often characterized by low compensation, limited benefits, and few opportunities or incentives to advance. The ITCS initiative hopes to solve this problem by filling the financial gap between what it costs to be a child care provider and what families can afford to pay for child care. If successful, the initiative will enable more parents to return to the workforce, a benefit for Leelanau County businesses desperately in need of employees.

“We were very fortunate to be one of the first grantees of ECIC’s Child Care Innovation Awards,” said Patricia Soutas-Little, managing director of the LECDC. “Leelanau childcare options and facilities have been drastically diminishing in the last few years, and this grant will be critical in providing some solutions for our working families.”

The Leelanau Early Childhood Development Commission is being assisted by two key partners in this initiative. The Leelanau Children’s Center and the Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation have provided resources to ensure the grant monies are efficiently and effectively employed.

Ways to join in this effort can be found on the LECDC website, or to sign up for the program call ITCS at 231-942-4537.

Photo by Gabe Pierce

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