MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Marquette County Childcare Coalition announced Friday the launch of a new pilot program designed to assist individuals who are interested in starting an in-home childcare business.

It’s called Childcare SPARK and was developed by the Community Foundation of Marquette County (CFMC), Great Start to Quality, Lake Superior Community Partnership (LSCP), Marquette-Alger RESA, and Regionerate. The program aims to address the childcare shortage by successfully establishing new in-home childcare businesses throughout Marquette County.

“It’s really important for this program to recognize that this is a challenge that we are experiencing across the county, and really, across the region,” said Zosia Eppensteiner, CEO of CFMC. “And so, making it available both from a geographic perspective across the county but looking at these specific challenges. You know, people have a hard time with transportation, with broadband, they might need help with equipment, or start-up funding, or they might need to make adjustments to their home in order to start up the licensed in-home facility. Those were all things that were considered in the design of the program.”

Childcare SPARK program participants will be supported throughout the process of becoming licensed in-home childcare providers, guided by business development professionals, local childcare operators, and early childhood development organizations.

“[Participants] will go through about three months of weekly classes and homework and all that fun stuff to learn business basics, childcare business basics as well, early childhood education basics,” said Christopher Germain, CEO of LSCP. “All the things you need to run a high quality home-based childcare center. They will also get support through mentors who are already doing this business. They’re out there experiencing this in the real world, and they can kind of give that additional advice. The program will also have additional support features built in, so effectively if you have this interest and this passion to create this type of business, you’ll now have all the support and resources to do so.”

To learn about eligibility requirements and to apply, visit The application deadline is April 7.