At GRCC, Gov. Whitmer calls for increased investment in childcare programs to boost access, help families and grow economy

Governor Whitmer at a podium speaking to an audience.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Grand Rapids Community College’s Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood Learning Laboratory a “phenomenal place” during an event Wednesday to promote proposals to expand access to childcare. 

Whitmer discussed her proposals to expand opportunities and services using $1.4 billion in federal funding from the American Recovery Act at an event coordinated by the Early Neighborhood Learning Collaborative and hosted by GRCC.

The governor toured several classrooms, joined by several state and community leaders who discussed the impact childcare has on the economy and how families struggled during the pandemic.

“This is really a phenomenal place where lives are being changed every single day, where paths are being created not just for the children who attend here, but for the students who are learning how to be great educators of the future,” Whitmer said.

“Quality early childhood experiences create the foundation for children and for families to thrive. Every family in Michigan should have access to a place like this.”

Governor Whitmer touring GRCC’s Fratzke Learning Laboratory.

GRCC’s Fratzke Learning Laboratory opened in January 2017 and is designed to serve preschoolers ages six weeks to six years and students in Early Childhood and Education programs.

President Bill Pink said the college was a “natural place” for the governor to discuss early childhood education.

“This Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood Learning Laboratory, in my opinion, is one of the state-of-the-art facilities not only here in West Michigan or only in Michigan, but in the country,” Pink said. “I would challenge you to find a better facility that is more serving to students – the little ones, and the ones learning the art of truly caring for our little ones.”

Whitmer also was joined by K’Sandra Earle, ENLC associate director; Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan; Sean Welsh, PNC Bank regional president and a member of Talent 2025’s Early Childhood Development Working Group; and Praveen Thadani, president of Priority Health.

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