Joining Forces Celebrates Statewide Success

Nearly 200 child care and early learning providers gathered in Lansing in late March with parents, community leaders and state officials to celebrate the conclusion of “Joining Forces,” a six-year statewide initiative to create more accessible and affordable systems of quality child care for Michigan’s low-income families.

The effort began in 1994 when The Skillman Foundation, Frey Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation “joined forces” to provide initial funding to nine Michigan communities to address the needs of children ages 0-5 and school age children before and after school.

“The timing of Joining Forces – in 1994 – was perfect because, within a few months, Michigan’s answer to welfare reform sent thousands of young mothers into the workplace,” said Carol Goss, Skillman’s program officer. “It’s clear that for all parents to move successfully into work, quality child care is essential.”

“The timing was also perfect because research studies at the time had begun to focus on the importance of early brain development and the effectiveness of quality child care in changing the trajectory of vulnerable children,” added Goss.

Joining Forces was instrumental in training providers, whether they care for children in their homes or in centers, to meet standards of quality – in terms of safety, nutrition, school readiness curriculum, and a host of other developmental criteria. The initiative also served as a bridge between parents and providers, and between providers and state welfare agencies.

Individual progress reports featuring stories and work done in the areas of Detroit, Downriver Detroit and Oakland County can be downloaded from this website. Visit the Children's Relationships program area on our What We Fund page to obtain the "Changing the Face of Child Care & Early Learning" files.