The Women’s Caring Program is a local nonprofit that helps to provide quality licensed childcare for families.“Carol Walters, who was a state employee living in Lansing, founded the group that would later become known as the Women’s Caring Program,” said Maureen McNulty-Saxton, long-time volunteer of The Women’s Caring Program. The program started in Walters’ home in 1979 from a small circle of women who had a growing concern about working mothers’ ability to pay for quality childcare. After years of fundraising the group created The Women’s Caring Program in 1995. Today the program serves Michigan families in 77 counties, and has raised more than $2 million for Michigan children and their families. ChildCare commitment is a signature part of the Women’s Caring Program. With about 26 percent of Michigan families in the category of the working poor (adults working but unable to balance their bills) the cost of childcare can be staggering. The families eligible for financial support may receive 40 percent of the annual cost of childcare and early education for one child per year. With the support of this program parents can prevent their children from falling behind as they begin school. “Our focus is on the child’s developing brain, specifically children ages birth to five,” said McNulty-Saxton. “If quality care and education is not provided from the earliest stages of life, children will not start school kindergarten-ready.” The issue of children falling behind in school is an issue that “resonates with everyone,” said McNulty-Saxton. Too many children enter elementary school without quality education behind them. Volunteering and donating help the ChildCare program thrive and continue to help struggling families. The Women’s Caring Program has annual Twilight Gatherings around the state that raise money to support the more than 1,000 children who benefit from their program. The Lansing Twilight Gathering is set for Tuesday, Aug. 14. The cost is $100. For more information on the Twilight Gathering or for volunteer information visit www.womenscaringprogram.org.