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Michigan looking for more early education funding in 2014

Jan 2, 2014

Credit Logan Chadde

Over the past few weeks, amongst the holidays and the snowstorms, there has been a surprising amount of news about early education funding in the state.

Most recently, Governor Snyder signaled he's going to ask for more preschool funding in his budget this year. That money would be in addition to the $65 million in funding for preschool the state the legislature approved  last year.  

It's not clear exactly how much Snyder will request. During budget negotiations last year he said he wanted $65 million a year for two years.  Any money for preschool secured this year would chip away at the backlog of four-year-olds on the waitlist for preschool in the state. That waitlist hovers at  around 13,000 kids.

But while the demand for preschool still far outstrips the availability, the state will be getting a little more help this year from the federal government.  The state just won more than $50 million in  'Race to the Top' federal education dollars to increase access to, and the quality of, early education around the state.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs around the state are unlikely to see any big boost in funding anytime soon, but the programs are getting a reprieve from all of the funding cuts they've endured over the past few years because of the sequester.

Congress' passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act a few weeks ago  will end these cuts. Exactly how and when the programs will be able to begin serving more children will become more clear in the coming weeks. There may be a lot of ground to make up, and some of this funding won't actually help families until 2015, but it does look like 2014 is shaping up to be a good year for early education in Michigan.