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Governor Whitmer visits Educare ahead of budget proposal

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She spoke with parents and educators about what they want to see from universal Pre-K

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - One month after announcing she wants to make preschool free for all 4-year-olds in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer visited Flint's state-of-the-art Educare preschool facility on Monday.

Educare came to Flint after the water crisis created an urgent effort by state and community partners to increase access to early childhood education.

While at the facility, Whitmer joined a round-table with parents and educators on Pre-K education.

"I think she obviously heard a lot of positive feedback to support that vision from parents and community members," said GISD Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff. He also told ABC12 he felt honored Whitmer put the spotlight on educare.

During discussion, one subject kept coming up: getting cared for by family at age 0-4 versus the advantage of having the latest support and services in early education.

"They're not learning language with new methods they could be learning from. They're not seeing things in modern ways that we've evolved over time. So I've seen that time and time again," said attendee Jaquita Kelley.

For some, like young Taylor, pre-K services like Educare have been life-changing.

Born during the water crisis, ABC12 reported on his progress in the classroom in 2020.

"When I came here, he was just using single words and doing single step directions. Now he's asking questions and he's five, six words in a sentence," said speech pathologist Kelly Jackson at the time.

ABC12 asked Governor Whitmer what universal Pre-K means for areas without those kinds of facilities.

"If we say 'this is a priority for the state, we're going to help parents,' I think entrepreneurs will see that this is a moment and opportunity to build out the kind of daycare options we're hoping to see across Michigan," Whitmer replied.

Her proposal Tuesday is just a starting point. The final budget is up to the legislature.

The GISD has already been providing free early intervention services to children under age 5 affected by the Flint water crisis.

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