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Education Policy Fellowship Program

Early Childhood Inequalities and Opportunities

March 16, 2015
3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, MSU

Purpose: Learning begins at birth. However, education is not compulsory until age six. The most critical years of the child's life have no guaranteed education component. The purpose of the session is to explore the various factors that contribute to the inequalities children experience in the first five years of life, as well as the current initiatives related to education that exist to mitigate these factors. We will also look at how policy has changed in the last four years to systematically meet the needs of young children and achieve the outcomes set by Michigan's governor. Additionally, we will look specifically at how three primary factors contributed to the unprecedented expansion of Michigan's Great Start Readiness Program, recognized across the country as the largest preschool expansion in the nation.


Session Components:

  • Early childhood disparities activity
  • What is early childhood education?
  • Why is it so important?
  • Speaker: Providing a Comprehensive Response
  • Speaker: Providing a Policy Response


Speaker Biographies:

Candace Cowling has provided leadership, resource development, fiscal management and community leadership as Family Futures' Executive Director for 17 years. Family Futures' vision is to shape a community that equips parents with support and resources, builds strong and safe families and gives every child a chance to thrive. Ms. Cowling has leadership roles with organizations, boards, and teams working on economic development, equity, and family services including the Infant Health Implementation Team, the Home Visitor Provider Network, United Way Partner Agencies, the Greater Grand Rapids Racial Equity Network and their Targeted Universalism Affinity Group, the Ages & Stages Questionnaire Users' Group, K-Connect's Prenatal to Third Grade Workgroup and the Kent County Family and Children's Coordinating Council Executive Committee.

Richard Lower is Director of Preschool and Out-of-School Time Learning within the Office of Great Start of the Michigan Department of Education. Mr. Lower is responsible for the administration of roughly $290 million in state and federal funding thought the Great Start Readiness Program, Early Childhood Special Education, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers that provide programs and services to a variety of school districts and community-based organizations statewide. Prior to joining the Department of Education in 2008, Mr. Lower served as Executive Director of the Michigan Head Start Association and has also worked in the non-profit sector focused on children, youth and family budget and policy development.


Learning Team Members:

Jamie Malnar
Lydia Moore
Sue Pearson
Pat Sargent
Ben Singer


Resource Material:


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