TRAVERSE CITY — The impact of important personal and family issues including child care, early education and healthcare on the business world is often focused on the short-term bottom line – health insurance costs increase by this or that percent, businesses spend X-amount on child care, and so on.
Of course businesses have to make ends meet, but their real bottom line almost always includes more than percentages and line items. Common situations like a school snow day or office flu bug are frequent reminders of the very real impact these issues have on workplace functions.
That’s why it’s important to recognize and build on important achievements including the state’s increased investment in early childhood development, and the new initiative by Munson Medical Center and Northwestern Michigan College to create a local child care facility to serve the families of college employees, students and potentially others. These investments promise long-term benefits to the region and the state, and it’s encouraging to see the business community get on board.
Next year’s state budget adds another $65 million to the Great Start Readiness Program, which includes $10 million for transportation - a real need for many families. Combined with the current year’s budget increase of $65 million, it raises the total budget for GSRP to $239.6 million, up from $109.6 million in FY ‘13. Tens of thousands of four-year-olds from low-income families will have access to crucial pre-school programs who otherwise would have been left behind.
Early childhood advocates said the support of the business sector has been critical to expanding these important services.
“Without question, the business community’s strong advocacy was instrumental in the expansion of the state’s high quality public pre-kindergarten program,” said Peter Pratt of Public Sector Consultants, which works with the Children’s Leadership Council of Michigan, which I’m proud to co-chair. “Business leaders recognize that we must begin building the workforce of the future, and that resonated with the governor and the legislature.”