Child care legislation aims to grow access, create incentives for industry

By Michael Martin, June 15, 2021

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LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer and a group of bipartisan lawmakers held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to unveil a package of bills aimed at increasing access to child care services, particularly for working families.

The governor was joined by state Reps Jack O’Malley, John Roth, Greg VanWoerkom, Julie Calley, Rodney Wakeman, Greg Markkanen, Kelly Breen and Ranjeev Puri.

“When I talk with people and families across the four counties I represent, they tell me how difficult it is to find reliable child care services,” Rep. O’Malley said Tuesday.

“These are the hard-working people who are trying to make a living to pay their bills and support their families, but the care they need for their children is unavailable.”

The issue of child care availability has only worsened throughout the pandemic. According to the state of Michigan, we have lost 47 daycare centers since 2020 and lost 232 in-home daycare facilities.

“On Monday I announced my plan to invest $1.4 billion to strengthen our child care industry and to support Michigan families. To make child care more widely available, I propose we offer grants to expand existing providers and open new sites, pay providers more, make child care more affordable.”

The governor says the plan will make around 150,000 more children eligible for low or no-cost child care in the state.

The proposed legislation is supported by Michael Evans, executive director of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council.

“From the perspective of people choosing this as a career, you want to know that you have a career that’s sustainable, that can support your family, and that is something that is really going to allow for opportunities for progress and growth,” Evans told FOX 17 Tuesday.

For Nichole Blum with the YWCA, the bills would help address issues faced by families hardest hit by the pandemic.

“As we found in the pandemic, it affected everybody, but vulnerable communities and families and children experiencing additional ongoing stressors in their lives, it impacted them even more so,” Blum said.

According to a study by Lending Tree, the cost of childcare in Michigan has gone up a staggering 61% since last year, leading families to spend about 16% of their annual income on care.

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