Factual Statements on the 5 Main False Statements Regarding the Millage

 1.)  The Millage Request IS Well Planned

The idea for a millage to support Early Childhood Development (ECD) services comes from a belief that every child in Leelanau County should have the best chance to succeed in life. Early Childhood Development does this.   A bi-partisan vote of the County Commissioners created a 42-member Early Childhood County Committee (ECCC) in February tasked with assessing early childhood programs and services in Leelanau County and making recommendations for building quality programs.

The committee brought together representatives from businesses, educators, churches, libraries, health professionals, daycare providers, the Grand Traverse Band, advocacy groups locally and regionally, and eleven governmental entities including the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Board and staff, Family Court, and State & Federal program directors.  They all concluded that child readiness matters, the scientific evidence supports it, that current early childhood services supporting families are lacking

and they recommended three things the County should do to support families: create an Early Childhood Development program modeled after Parenting Communities to be housed and administered in the Health Department; coordinate early childhood programs in Leelanau to avoid duplication, maximize service and collaborate with regional opportunities to make tax payer dollars go further; and third, increase the availability of mental health services for families.  In a bi-partisan vote the Leelanau Board of Commissioners approved these recommendations and a request to voters for 0.253 millage to implement these recommendations.  

Other recommendations made were targeted for state and federal government included support for early childhood providers, tax breaks for families paying for daycare for their kids, and incentives for businesses to support early childhood programs and providers.

2.)    Duplication of Services  

The Program is an expansion of what the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department currently offers and fills the gaps in services. The Health Department will oversee the program, budget and evaluation of the program, and already has an administrative structure in place to do so.  Like the Senior Services millage the Leelanau Board of Commissioners will receive reports from the Health Board and will provide oversight ensuring accountability of tax payer dollars, funds will be audited. 

 Currently, the Health Department has only one funded program, MIHP, providing Early Childhood services through home visiting for low income families who qualify.  MIHP provides services for the first year of life only, allowing only 10 visits.  The only other Early Childhood service program the Health Department offers is Healthy Futures, an unfunded partnership with Munson Hospital that offers one phone call or visit to Mothers with a newborn.  There are 200 to 250 children in this category that the Health Department would like to provide services but lack resources to do so.  Only 10% of the total child population in Leelanau County between 0 and 6 (which is over 1,000 kids) currently are being served with Early Childhood services through the Health Department.  90% of our kids and families have no service and only limited services are available through the Parenting Communities program supported by a non-profit corporation.  This millage would allow the Health Department to offer Early Childhood home visiting and other services to ALL families utilizing the framework of the established, evidence-based, award winning Parenting Communities program.

 There is no Head Start program available for families in Leelanau County and there are only 5 Early Head Start slots available for kids—which means only 5 kids in the County can receive early childhood services through Early Head Start.   

 3.)    Why Are Additional Staff Needed?

The millage would cover 5 1/2 direct service staff (3 community works and 2 social workers--see fact sheet for details).  They will be housed in the Health

Department.   These staff are the people who will guide the playgroups, make home visits, hold parent events, and work with parents to connect them to needed resources.  The goal for social workers is to reduce out of home placements.  The 1/2 staff person in addition to providing service will coordinate and collaborate with programs regionally and within Leelanau to ensure there is no duplication of services as recommended by the ECC Committee.

 4.)    What Happens After the First Year?

The services are modeled after the Parenting Communities program framework and Health Department staff believe the program can be fully implemented quickly offering guided playgroups, home visits, parent programs and assistance to parents with needed resources.  Services will be open to all families on a volunteer basis, at times convenient for all families, at no cost to families.  After the first year the program will continue to support families offering the same services for all 5 years.  Evidence-based evaluation measures will be used to tweak the services where needed to better serve families.

5.)    How has the Benzie-Leelanau Health Department Been Involved ?

Board member and staff of the Health Department participated in the 42 member Early Childhood County Committee, created by the Board of Commissioners (BOC), tasked with examining the status of EC services and making recommendations.  Health Department staff created the budget and the budget justification shared with the BOC.  The Health Department submitted a letter of support to the BOC on these recommendations.  It is planned the program will be housed and administered by the Health Department who will provide transparency and evaluation of the program.

6.)    What Does the Ballot Statement About Brownfield Mean?

This year the State has required that a statement regarding funding for Brownfield projects be on ALL ballots, whether or not there is a Brownfield in that county, and that is why the language is ‘may’ not shall.  

By law a Brownfield plan is limited by the improved value on the Brownfield site.  Currently there are only four active Brownfield plans approved by the local communities in Leelanau County that may capture the new millage.  If the millage is captured on these four sites it is limited by the increased value on only those four properties and the amount captured would be very minor.  

School Superintendents Recommend a YES Vote

October 30, 2019

 Dear Residents of Leelanau County:

 On November 5, the voters of Leelanau County will have a choice to make regarding the Leelanau Early Childhood Services Millage.  The millage will raise over $700,000 per year for five years to help pay for early childhood (age 0-6) programs and services.

The 42-member Early Childhood Committee met multiple times and developed the following recommendations:

 1.     Build upon and expand the award-winning Parenting Communities Program model to be delivered through the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department

2.     Coordinate with all early childhood programs to ensure smooth operation and eliminate any duplication of services. 

3.     Expand access to much needed mental health services, and also to provide opportunities for other developmental services at no cost to all Leelanau families.

 There are many reasons to support this millage, including:    

  • Providing services to families with children under the age of five is crucial because 90% of a child’s brain is developed by that age.

  • Experts say that if we want our young children to do well in school, we should be teaching them all kinds of things before they even get to kindergarten so that they will be “ready to learn.”

  • Investing in early childhood is one of the most substantial steps the region can take to strengthen business, improve schools, expand economic opportunities and move our region forward.

 As your school superintendents, we support this millage. Please take time to study the proposal and make an informed decision on November 5. For more information, please go to https://www.leelanauearlychildhood.org

 Thank You.

 Michael Carmean, Superintendent, Suttons Bay Public Schools

Jon Hoover, Superintendent, Glen Lake Community School

Jason Stowe, Superintendent, Leland Public School

Neil Wetherbee, Superintendent, Northport Public School

Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation Advocates for Early Childhood Millage

According to James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, the four big benefits of investing in quality Early Childhood Development are: 

 •       Preventing the achievement gap, 

•       Improving health outcomes, 

•       Boosting lifelong earnings and 

•       Providing a high rate of return on investment for every dollar spent.

 Our 2016 survey of Leelanau County business owners found the essential trinity for positive economic growth, development and thriving communities are: 

•       Jobs, 

•       Affordable housing, and 

•       High quality early childhood services

The Board of the Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation encourages Leelanau businesses to vote YES on the early childhood millage on November 5. It makes good business sense.                    

Tim Haring, President, Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation

1971 South Lake Shore Drive, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653 (231) 256-2512

Early Childhood Development Millage


Decades of research demonstrates that parents and children who participate in high quality Early Childhood programs experience better lives:

  • Lower substance abuse rates

  • Half as many criminal arrests

  • Better problem solving skills

  • Reduced depression

  • Lower teen pregnancy rates

  • Better health outcomes

  • Lower special education needs

  • Higher graduation rates

  • More likely to attend college

  • Higher lifelong earnings

Who says Early Childhood Services matter?

  • Law enforcement & court officials

  • Business organizations & owners

  • Economists

  • Teachers & school superintendents

  • AMA & the World Health Organization

  • Parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles

Early Childhood is an Economic Driver

According to economists, the essential trinity for positive growth, development and thriving communities are:

  1. Jobs

  2. Affordable housing

  3. High quality Early Childhood services

 What will the millage fund?

  • $398,290 for:

  • Three Community Health Workers

  • Two Social Workers for:

    • Home visits

    • Playgroups

    • Parenting Programs

    • Linkages to Health Resources

  • One part-time Coordinator

    (ensures integration with home visiting and existing early childhood programs & services)

  • $286,410 for:

    Operational costs (travel, supplies, materials for playgroups, home visits, space) and…

  • $43,300 for:

    Access to mental health services & the mobile dental program

  • Totaling: $728,000

Who will administer the services?

Early Childhood Development Services are planned to be administered by the Benzie/Leelanau District Health Department.

Facts About The Early Childhood Development Millage

What is this millage all about?

A 42-member, bi-partisan Early Childhood County Committee (convened by the Leelanau Board of Commissioners) assessed early childhood programs and services in the County and made three recommendations for creating a strong foundation for all Leelanau children. Many years of research has shown that Early Childhood Development Programs vastly improve a child’s ability to learn and has tremendous impact on their success in life. As Bill Gates so aptly stated, “The first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 will turn out.”

What were the three recommendations?

1. The first recommendation was to build upon and expand the award-winning Parenting Communities Program model to be delivered through the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department.

2. The second recommendation for the County was to coordinate with all early childhood programs to ensure smooth operation and eliminate any duplication of services.

3. The third recommendation was to expand access to much needed mental health services, and also to provide opportunities for other developmental services at no cost to all Leelanau families.

What is Parenting Communities?

Parenting Communities is a locally-grown, early childhood program that has been operating in Leelanau County for more than 20 years and currently depends solely on the financial support of grants and donations. Programs and services are free, they are voluntary and open to all families throughout the county, and are scheduled to meet family needs. Some services are provided in cooperation with the County Health Department, local schools, community groups and churches. Their guiding philosophy is to “make sure parents have what they need for the most challenging and impactful role of their lives.”

What does Parenting Communities do now?

Playgroups. These informal groups serve families with children from birth to kindergarten. Facilitators provide advice and structure activities that stimulate brain development, social-emotional development, and provide information about other community supports and services. Parents benefit by developing life-long friendships and social support circles, and learning from one another - formally and informally as they observe other parents interacting with their children.

Home Visits. Quality, effective home visits are a partnership between the home visitor and parents. This completely voluntary program provides professional support and health education in a home setting where the support person (a nurse, social worker, or early childhood specialist) can tailor services unique to each family. Information covers a wide range of topics - prenatal/postpartum care, basic care of infants, building positive parent-child interactions, and coaching parents to achieve their personal goals.

Health Resources. When deemed appropriate, referrals are provided for developmental screenings (vision, hearing, sensory, cognitive, etc.), special needs services, dental care and mental health services. In these instances, it is crucial to have early access to professionals for effective preventative care.

Parent Education Events. These stand-alone events allow parents to choose information on topics like postpartum depression, breastfeeding, child safety, nutrition, immunization, positive parenting, oral health, brain development and more. Parents describe these events as a chance to improve their parenting skills and gain a better understanding of topics that are important to them.

How will this work?

Early Childhood Development is proposed to be housed within the Benizie Leelanau District Health Department. Currently the Health Department can support families with home visits through two program offerings. However, these programs have strict limitations on eligibility. Expanding the Parenting Communities model will provide services to ALL families - both those who do not currently qualify for the Health Department programs, plus expanded services to families who already qualify.

What will the Early Childhood millage pay for?

$398,290 for:

  • Three Community Health Workers, and

  • Two Social Workers to deliver direct service components including but not limited to home visits, playgroups, parenting programs, and health resources.

  • Plus one part-time Coordinator to ensure elimination of any duplication of services and collaborate with other programs to maximize tax dollars.

$286,410 for operational costs (travel, supplies, materials for playgroups, home visits, space) and…

$43,300 for access to needed mental health services

For a total of cost of $728,000.

How much will this cost me?

Only property owners will pay for the millage, and 90% of Leelanau property owners will pay less than $4.50 per month. For example, the owner of a home with a cash value of $240,000 would pay $2.60 a month and the owner of a home worth $500,000 would pay $4.30 per month. If you own property, but are eligible for the Veterans or Poverty Exemption you won’t pay anything.

How do Early Childhood Development programs save taxpayers money?

Leelanau County residents today are already paying every year:

• Over $10,000 for the cost of care per youth in Juvenile Court

• Over $30,000 for the cost per juvenile youth in treatment program

• Approx. $99,000 for the cost per inmate for incarceration at the Leelanau Law Enforcement Center, and

• $204,512 was spent on special instructional support in Leelanau in 2018

All the research completed to date shows Early Childhood Development programs substantially reduce these social costs.

According to leading economists, investing in quality early childhood programs yield a return of up $13 for every dollar spent. The best return on our tax investment comes from supporting early childhood programs.

For more information visit www.leelanauearlychildhood.org

Paid for by the Early Childhood Development Committee, 1888 North Eagle Highway, Lake Leelanau MI 49653