The rigors of providing care during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic were challenging. Now, Ferris State University’s Early Learning Center has received a needed boost through a $101,058 grant from the Michigan Department of Education.
Lori Johnson, the Early Learning Center manager, said the Child Care Sustainability Grant resources allow them to reward workers who found themselves in unique roles as the pandemic brought them to remote operations in 2020, from March to August.
“Those operations eligible for this grant support included licensed home daycare providers and centers like our own,” Johnson said. “We were informed by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs we received this award. Our staff was great in its response to serving students and families with engaging programs in those early months of the pandemic.”
Johnson said the Early Learning Center reopened but had to limit capacity, and fewer youngsters meant reduced revenues, affecting operational revenue.
“There were Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act awards available, but the state’s Child Care Sustainability Grant funding meets requirements like retrofitting our facility, purchasing classroom materials and salary enhancement to have proper staffing numbers,” Johnson said. “The remaining $86,000 in the state grant can go to these expenditures and other eligible aspects of center operation.”
Also on the horizon, the Ferris Board of Trustees, on Friday, Feb. 18, approved a new Early Learning Center as part of Ferris’ Campus Master Plan. The current Early Learning Center is in Bishop Hall, a building scheduled for demolition. In its new facility, the staff expects to continue providing hands-on learning opportunities for students in Early Learning Education while supporting children of students, faculty and staff with quality educational experiences.