Wayne County families needing to find resources to help with child care and early childhood education can now find them through one online tool.
Hosted on United Way’s website, Connect4CareKids is a free tool for parents to connect to all of their early childhood services. It’s designed to make it easier and less overwhelming for families with young children to find and understand options for early childhood education and care.
The expanded program through United Way can help families in Dearborn and other Wayne County communities. United Way for Southeastern Michigan and the city of Detroit launched Connect4Care Kids last year. It was originally focused on Detroit but is now expanded throughout the county.
The resources streamlines the process of searching for and finding care options, particularly connecting to programs that help parents and caregivers with child care costs, including Early Head Start, Head Start, Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) and Michigan’s Child Care and Development subsidy.
More than 60 percent of children ages 5 and younger in Wayne County live in households that qualify for some type of assistance with child care costs. General lack of awareness, out-of-date information, a complicated web of eligibility requirements and a confusing application process all contribute to parents and caregivers accessing the care they need for their young children. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for families to provide children the best developmental and educational tools they can.
Many families are unaware of the programs they may be eligible for. It can be difficult for parents and caregivers to know where to go for help. Connect4Care Kids is designed to help address this concern.
The application process is quick and easy to start. Parents and/or caregivers simply answer a few short questions about their family and the children they would like to sign up. The information is then sent to providers who connect with them about spots they may have open and complete enrollment.
The entire platform has also been translated into Arabic and Spanish to help families use the resource in the language they are most comfortable with using.
Parents and caregivers can visit Connect4CareKids.org or text Kids to 4Care (42273) to:
- Search for early childhood and care centers near home, work or school;
- Check if their child is eligible for programs that help low-income families and
- Connect with programs matching the family’s need — helping them immediately start the application process online.
The entire platform has also been translated into Arabic and Spanish to help families engage in the language they are most comfortable with using.
Child care, a huge expense for families
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average cost of infant care in Michigan is nearly $11,000, or about $900 per month.
Jeffrey Miles, senior director for the Center for Early Childhood Excellence at United Way told The Arab American News that child care is one of the biggest expenses for families in the region.
“(The cost is) almost 7 percent more than average rent,” Miles said. “The cost of infant care in Michigan is nearly what families would pay for in-state tuition for four-year public college.”
The cost of infant care in Michigan is nearly what families would pay for in-state tuition for four-year public college. — Jeffrey Miles, United Way
Child care is the number one cost ($1,122/month) for a family of four (two adults, one infant, one preschooler) in the ALICE survival budget — the budget that a family of four needs to meet their basic needs. That’s more than rent, housing, healthcare, food and transportation.
“It doesn’t get much cheaper as the child grows,” Miles added. “Child care for a 4-year-old costs about $8,800 or $740 a month.”
Miles said that for families with low incomes who qualify for Head Start or GSRP, which cover the full program cost through federal or state funding, that’s an incredible benefit to ensure their child has access to high-quality education and all that that offers, as well as allowing the parent to go to school or work with reliable child care.
Local parents can use the free development screening through Connect4Care Kids to help better understand how their children are developing. READY4K, a Stanford University-developed texting platform, promotes positive development in children by supporting parents with information on developmental milestones and activities to do in the home
The Connect4Care Kids team also supports community organizations and employers to share with families to support their ongoing childcare needs.
For more information, visit Connect4CareKids.org