LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Today, legislation was introduced to provide support to child care providers and parents. This comes a day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced she wants to use $1.4 billion in federal funding to expand access to high-quality child care and make it more affordable. These bills provide insight into how some of the money could be spent.
For background, Michigan child care subsidies have declined 65 percent in the last 20 years, while your cost for child care has gone up nearly as much in the last year alone.
There are 30 percent fewer licensed options today compared to ten years ago, according to lawmakers at today’s press conference.
More than 180,000 women have left the workforce since a year ago, many citing child care as a factor.
The lack of affordable child care is directly related to the shortage of workers, we have heard it time and time again. While it seems Lansing fights about pretty much everything these days, this is one issue they are working together to solve.
Democrats and Republicans haven’t earned a reputation for playing nice. Yet in Michigan, there’s one topic they agree on: child care.
“I suppose it's only fitting, but I nearly missed today's press conference due to my own child care issues,” says Rep. Ranjeev Puri, a Democrat from Michigan’s 21st District.
Rep. Kelly Breen, a Democrat from the 38th District, says she was paying $11,000 a year.
“For two days a week for both of my kids, and that was only during the school year,” Breen said.
Puri adding, “It costs us nearly $25,000 to send our two kids to pre-K and toddler care."
The problem isn’t new but it has gotten worse says Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, a Republican in the 91st District.
“Pre-pandemic, when we were at full employment, affordable child care was a top-three issue for employers. Post-pandemic, child care is front and center and getting our state back to normal,” VanWoerkom said.
A bi-partisan workgroup announced eight pieces of legislation on June 15 to reward quality in-home child care providers, crackdown on bad actors, increase safety and provide financial and administrative support.
“Maybe a lot of these providers who have left the business, we will be able to get them grants and get back into the business,” says Rep Jack O’Malley, a Republican in the 101st District.
The package of bills would:
- Provide a path for child care providers to locate in multi-use buildings - to make child care providers more accessible to where families live and work.
- Help parents access state health and safety records of child care facilities by sharing the information online.
- Reward home-based providers with proven records of success, by allowing them to care for additional children.
- Expand the Mi Tri Share Child Care pilot program where the state pays a third of the cost, the family pays a third and the employer pays a third of the cost.
- Create a child care support network for providers. These would be one-stop shops for guidance and assistance in administrative tasks to ensure safety and compliance, plus offer financial and curriculum support.
“These networks will help provide training and technical help, engage new providers and reduce the size of these child care deserts and make these businesses more sustainable,” Breen said.
These bills still need to go through the legislative process and there will be more bills to come from the bipartisan workgroup.