Family Learning Center: Ingham County, MI – 1988 Innovations Winner
During the 1978-79 school year, the state of Michigan turned down Jean Ekins’ application for model-site designation of her Leslie, Michigan Family Learning Center. Ekins had started the program four years earlier within the Leslie public school system to provide an appropriate high school setting for teen-aged parents. Designation carried a $60,000 grant, about twice the center's current annual budget. Ekins believed the money as well as the designation would have lent legitimacy to the center's existence, which the conservative community of Leslie frequently questioned on practical and moral grounds. At the time of Ekins’ application, the center provided services to about 20 students, but many more young parents were on the waiting list, denied services because of a lack of funds. It had become clear to Ekins that, without more money, the center would remain a small, relatively ineffective weapon in the fight to provide educational services to Leslie-area school-aged parents. The case describes Ekins’ efforts to establish the program and focuses on the issues confronting the administrator of a small, financially strapped program on the frontiers of service delivery. The case also addresses the question of how best to expand a successful but limited program: how to gauge degrees of support and opposition; how to balance demands for resources; and where and how to look for potential allies.