Working toward a childcare solution
MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University President Brock Tessman today announced a new partnership that will guarantee NMU employees and students priority access to high-quality child care at a reduced rate. Ann Arbor-based provider Gretchen’s House, which operates 10 centers in the state, will open a facility with 35-40 available slots a few blocks from campus early in 2024.
NMU will invest $250,000 annually to subsidize child care costs at Gretchen House for NMU employees and students. According to its website, Gretchen’s House has been providing child development programs for infants through school-age children since 1985. Its programs are licensed by the state of Michigan and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Gretchen’s House implements the HighScope active-learning, research-based curriculum in infant/toddler and preschool classrooms.
“I am proud to announce this partnership with Gretchen’s House, and to make such a critical investment in high-quality child care for our university and our community,” Tessman said. “Alongside NMU’s participation in the Tri-Share and WeeCare child care programs, this new partnership reflects our growing commitment to address key quality-of-life issues facing our faculty, staff and students.”
“Access to, and the cost of, high quality child care has been a critical focus area for us,” said Rhea Dever, NMU vice president of People, Culture and Wellbeing. “We know it is a significant concern for our faculty, staff and students and is key to our attraction, retention and wellbeing strategies. Our partnership with Gretchen’s House will help to address the access issue, and our participation as a Tri-Share employer helps to address the cost issue for eligible employees.”
NMU currently covers six families through the Tri-Share state grant program, which covers one-third of child care costs, with the remaining two-thirds split evenly between NMU and the eligible employee. Northern also continues to participate in WeeCare, which provides NMU employees and students first opportunity at available child care slots for both infants and toddlers, with a minimum guarantee of five slots. WeeCare operates an in-home daycare on the East side of Marquette, just blocks from NMU’s campus.
The new partnership with Gretchen’s House offers a third option designed to provide the NMU
community with greater affordability and access to child care, and to counter the shortage of providers in Marquette County.
“Gretchen’s House is able to open in Marquette because of our partnership,” said Dever. “We are hopeful this will ultimately positively impact the broader community as well.”