A resource is coming to Michigan to make it easier for entrepreneurs to open child care programs and get licensed faster, expanding access to quality, affordable care for working families. The program called "Our Strong Start" will help child care entrepreneurs develop and grow their businesses, obtain the resources they need to succeed and connect with grant funds, according to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a recent press release announcing the program. It is expected to help the state reach its goal of opening 1,000 additional child care programs by the end of 2024.\u00a0 "While we\u2019re working to lower child care costs for families and expand access to early learning programs, like 4-year-old preschool, there are still too many working families struggling to find child care that meets their needs and budget," Whitmer said in the release. Child care entrepreneurs can contact Our Strong Start for assistance at any stage in the business development process\u2014including before they\u2019ve secured a facility or applied for a child care license. The program's navigators will counsel potential business owners, according to the release. Navigators are also available to help business owners interested in expanding their child care program.\u00a0 The Our Strong Start team also hosts in-person and virtual events to promote the industry and encourage people to consider a career in child care. The first virtual event, "How to Open a Successful Child Care Business in Michigan," was on Thursday. Anyone considering a career in child care can register for future events on LARA's website.\u00a0 Our Strong Start, the latest step in Whitmer's Caring for MI Future $100 million strategy, will be run by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Child Care Licensing Bureau. "Our Strong Start will reduce barriers to licensure that entrepreneurs have encountered while trying to navigate through multiple state programs," LARA Director Orlene Hawks said in the release. "By making the licensing process easier and more efficient, we are demonstrating our commitment to working with individuals who are stepping up to create safe and reliable child care options for families." Entrepreneurs can connect with Our Strong Start at Michigan.gov\/MIchildcare. If an entrepreneur would like to meet with a navigator, they can complete a form and a navigator will connect with them within 48 hours, according to the release.\u00a0 "Our Strong Start provided invaluable assistance in navigating the process to start my family child care business," Donyeal Sizemore, a child care entrepreneur in SE Michigan, said in the release. "I\u2019m planning my grand opening and am grateful that the Our Strong Start was there to help me every step of the way." Additionally, more families are eligible for help paying for child care than you might think.\u00a0 To see if you qualify, visit the Michigan Department of Education and Early Childhood Investment Corporation's online eligibility calculator. It will determine in less than two minutes if you could get lower child care costs. Families can visit Michigan.gov\/childcare for a complete list of reasons they may qualify for low or no-cost child care and qualifying income levels for larger families.