UM-Flint’s early childhood education expertise featured at Wolverine Caucus

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Robert Barnett, PhD | Dean of the School of Education and Human Services at UM-Flint
Robert Barnett, PhD | Dean of the School of Education and Human Services at UM-Flint

UM-Flint’s innovative approach to early childhood education will be spotlighted at two upcoming events.

Dr. Robert Barnett, Dean of the School of Education & Human Services, and Amy Hesse, Central Administrator of Cummings Great Expectations Early Learning Center, will be the keynote speakers at the Wolverine Caucus event March 13 in Lansing. The caucus is made of University of Michigan alumni associated with Michigan’s state government, such as legislators, lobbyists, advocates, and others.

Dean Barnett and Director Hess will discuss the early childhood education issues statewide, and detail UM-Flint’s role with the Cummings Great Expectations Early Childhood Learning Center. The Flint center opened in October 2016, offering free year-round programming, with an emphasis on families with young children affected by lead exposure and the water crisis.

“This is a partnership in ways that we have not done before, and which can serve as a model across the state,” said Barnett.

Cutting the ribbon to open the Cummings early childhood center.
Cutting the ribbon to open the Cummings early childhood center.

Cummings is a partnership between UM-Flint, Flint Community Schools, and Genesee Intermediate School District, The Mott Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, with grant funding from the State of Michigan, the federal government, foundations, and other charitable organizations.

An array of services are offered within the childhood center, Hesse said, such as nutrition and wellbeing programs.

UM-Flint also collects and analyzes data at the school on what practices best help student’s social, emotional, and learning development. The university conducts this research at Educare Flint, as well.

Barnett and Hesse plan to discuss how to sustain this model of education, and how early childhood education can revitalize a community.

UM-Flint will also host the inaugural 2018 Michigan Early Childhood Policy Summit on April 9, which will bring together elected officials and leaders in various fields to explore possibilities for developing a comprehensive Early Childhood Policy Plan in Michigan.

“The policy summit is a chance to bring everyone together on early childhood education, from business, health fields, education, politics, and the community,” said Barnett.

Robert is a staff writer in University Communications & Marketing. Contact him with comments, questions, and story ideas.