Traverse City Record-Eagle


March 21, 2012

Forum: Early childhood investment vital

Early, childhood, investment, economic, development, efficient, results and accountability. When used together these words define a key component of Michigan's future and economic revitalization. Why? Because leading business executives and organizations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, agree that investment in early childhood development is a significant economic development tool.

Investing in the health, emotional well-being and education of children before they enter kindergarten pays massive dividends due not only to assurance of a high-quality workforce, but also because of the enormous long-term savings realized by reduced costs to education and the social welfare and criminal justice systems.

Investment, however, is only one side of the equation. Results are what matter. By focusing on efficient public-private partnership, system accountability and expecting solid returns on investment, Michigan has become a nationwide leader in the area of early childhood development. The Early Childhood Investment Corporation is leading the effort.

The Early Childhood Investment Corporation is a hybrid organization — part public, part private. The Investment Corporation sits at the nexus of Michigan early childhood efforts, including 54 local leadership groups called Great Start Collaboratives working on early childhood efficiencies in their communities; 70 Great Start Parent Coalitions, made up of more than 25,000 parents who want to talk about the importance of early childhood investment, Gov. Snyder's new Office of Great Start and a score of other public and private programs, innovations and stakeholders.

The Early Childhood Investment Corporation was created to alter the status quo, not be part of it. It looks at existing funding and figures out how to efficiently get more out of every dollar in order to solve problems and produce results. Moreover, the Investment Corporation brings accountability to the myriad of groups that administer program spending.

Efficiency, results and accountability are not words often associated with government programs, but they're the very words that make the Early Childhood Investment Corporation successful and yield a return on investment for Michigan taxpayers.

I served in the state Senate for 20 years, and most of that time was chair of the Senate K-12 Appropriations sub-committee.

I understand well the pressures that arise during budget time in Lansing. Cost-benefit analysis needs to be applied to ensure Michigan realizes clear benefit from expenditure of tax dollars by government agencies and programs.

The Early Childhood Investment Corporation falls firmly on the benefit side of any analysis.

I commend Gov. Snyder and the state legislators for their continued commitment to early childhood development focused on results, accountability and a brighter future. They're helping send a message about our state that we all want portrayed — that the Michigan of both today and tomorrow is, and will be, a world-class place to live, work and do business.

About the author: Dan DeGrow served as Majority Leader in the Michigan Senate from 1999-2002. He served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1981-1982 and in the Michigan Senate from 1983-2002. He is currently Superintendent of St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing Please include biographical information and a photo.

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