Michigan's Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant


The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) is a federal initiative that provides competitive state grants to support purposeful efforts to ensure that greater numbers of children with high needs are able to access high quality early learning and development programs, and that these programs are embedded within an integrated state system of programs and supports for young children.

Child Care Resources, the Great Start to Quality Southwest Resource Center partners with the Michigan Department of Education and Early Childhood Investment Corporation to implement the Race to the Top work.  Our resource center has four Race to the Top staff:  An RTT Project Manager, an RTT Quality Improvement Consultant who works to support unlicensed, subsidized child care providers in Kalamazoo County, an RTT Quality Improvement Specialist who works to support licensed home child care providers in Kalamazoo County and an RTT Family Engagement Consultant who works to support unlicensed, subsidized child care providers and their families. 


The Kalamazoo Care Network

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The Kalamazoo Care Network is funded through the Race to The Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. The KCN is a cohort of license exempt child care providers in Kalamazoo county who provide care for children 5 and under. Through involvement in the cohort, providers are able to attend professional development in early childhood topics that interest them and attend special events in the community planned around their needs.  They receive educational materials and health and safety items to support the quality of care they provide as well. 

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Care Giving Conversations

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The Caring Conversations Café model provides an avenue to support parents and licensed exempt providers as they care for young children. The cafés are influenced by the Strengthening Families Framework focused their 5 protective factors and on building collaborative partnerships both within and outside the family. Through these collaborations, parents and providers will learn from each other and support one another in providing the best care for the children in their lives.