Study Finds One-third of Children in Macomb, Oakland and Out Wayne Counties Lack Access to Early Childhood Care

In Press Release

More Slots, Quality Improvements and Community-specific Strategies Recommended

Detroit, MI—The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and Midwest nonprofit IFF today released a comprehensive needs assessment of early childhood care and education in the Tri-county region. The new study— Building a Better System: The Need for Early Childhood Education in Macomb, Oakland and Out Wayne Countiesestimates that in 2015 about 41,000 of the region’s children ages birth to 5 needed but did not have access to quality early childhood care.

The study analyzes the number of slots available through early childhood care programs at licensed and registered facilities, and compares this total with the number of children eligible for and in need of early childhood care. It also breaks down this estimate of the supply and demand for early childhood care by program types, such as Head Start and Great Start Readiness Program; by county; and by individual community areas within counties.

“The Tri-county region faces twin gaps in its early childhood care system — a slot gap and a quality gap,” said Kirby Burkholder, IFF’s executive director in Detroit. “And by calculating which communities need what type of care and how much, this study will help providers and policymakers to address these gaps.”

Highlights from the study include:

  • One-third of the Tri-county region’s children (excluding Detroit) lack access to early childhood care. The Tri-county region has approximately 206,000 children ages birth to 5, about 129,000 of whom are estimated to need early childhood care. However, only about 88,000 of these children have access to care now, leaving a gap of 41,000.
  • More than half of the Tri-county region’s need for additional early childhood care is concentrated in 13 communities. Sixty-two percent of this gap is concentrated in 13 of the region’s 54 communities — nine of which are located in Out Wayne County. And although additional slots are needed across every program type throughout the region, Oakland County has a substantial surplus of slots for 3- to 5-year-old children.
  • The number of quality providers is increasing, but more are needed. Although the number of early childhood care providers participating in Michigan’s Great Start to Quality has increased recently, 81 percent of the Tri-county region’s licensed and registered providers still do not participate in this essential ratings program.

”We are pleased to collaborate with other funders and IFF to gather the best possible data about early childhood education needs in our communities” said Katie Brisson, vice president, program, at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “This insight will help direct resources where they are most needed by children and families in southeast Michigan.”

Funded by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, with additional support from the Colina Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the study was commissioned to inform the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Collaborative and to help to identify the next steps in building an early childhood system that best serves the children of the Detroit region. It is being released today in conjunction with The System We Need: A Neighborhood Snapshot of Early Childhood Education in Detroit, a companion needs assessment that focuses on the early childhood care and education system in the city of Detroit.


The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $800 million through more than 55,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. For more information, please visit

IFF is a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant and developer that helps communities thrive by creating opportunities for low-income populations and individuals with disabilities. From child care to senior housing, IFF works closely with clients from every sector, offering affordable, flexible financing; full-scale real estate consulting; and community development services. Since 1988, we have made over $570 million in loans, leveraged $1.8 billion in community investments and grown our total managed assets to $371 million. In Michigan, IFF has provided nearly $40 million in financing for nonprofits and housing developers across the state, and consulted with 40 agencies on real estate projects.