For Immediate Release
June 15, 2021
League applauds bipartisan efforts to improve child care access and affordability, hope political agreement continues with budget and recovery funding
Michigan League for Public Policy, partners join with House members from both sides of the aisle, Gov. Whitmer for legislative announcement on child care
LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy joined with other child well-being partners and advocates, members of the business community, Representative Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) and and other Michigan House members from both sides of the aisle, and Gov. Whitmer to announce new House bills to address Michigan families’ growing child care needs during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Child care is essential to some of the League’s biggest priorities—economic security, stable employment, child development and child well-being—and we appreciate the continued bipartisan commitment by Rep. O’Malley and his colleagues to improve the system for parents, kids and providers alike,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “These bills are in direct response to the increased recognition of high-quality, affordable child care as a workforce development tool and the understanding of the vital role educational experiences from the earliest years of life have on children’s development and school readiness. We look forward to working with the bill sponsors and other legislative leaders to see these proposals become a reality.”
“Gov. Whitmer continues to make investments in child care a priority, and the League has been strongly supportive of the governor’s related priorities in her 2022 state budget proposal and in yesterday’s proposal for the investment of federal recovery dollars,” Jacobs added. “There are several important areas of intersection between the governor’s proposed investments in child care and today’s bipartisan bill package, such as contracts to build the supply of now scarce infant/toddler care and family child care networks that can ease the burden on home-based child care providers, both policy recommendations the League has been advocating for in recent years.”
Child care has been a longstanding priority for the Michigan League for Public Policy in its annual state budget work, its Kids Count in Michigan Project, and its state and federal policy advocacy efforts both before and during the current health crisis. A report released by the League this spring, Child Care Financing Reform: A Critical Next Step for Michigan Families and the Economy, shows that the current financing system hasn’t worked, resulting in an inadequate supply of affordable child care—especially for infants and toddlers—as well as very low wages for child care teachers, and unlike public schools, is not funded by the state apart from inadequate subsidies for families with low wages. For a family at the state median income level ($57,054), the cost of child care in a center for one infant accounts for 19% of their income ($10,861), often exceeding the expenses of mortgages, rental payments and college costs; for families earning the minimum wage, child care costs for one infant consume 55% of income.
In addition to the report, the League’s Kids Count in Michigan project released fact sheets on child care for the state and each of Michigan’s 83 counties. The fact sheets for each county include information on whether the county is a child care desert or has low capacity, and the number of young children living in poverty in the county.
In addition to the lack of affordability and accessibility of care for families, many child care workers are facing the same financial challenges as families seeking care. Child care providers often struggle to make ends meet, as they are some of the lowest paid professionals in the state.
The report and data show that the lack of equity in the child care system is the root of a growing problem. Child care workers are disproportionately women, many of color, and the report shows that Black and Latinx workers are paid less than their white peers in an already low-paying field. Reforming the child care system starts with addressing those inequities.
According to the report, Michigan had the second lowest income eligibility threshold for child care in the country leading into the COVID-19 pandemic. It was raised to 150% of the poverty level in January 2021, but the state still falls far behind the national median of 188%. In her 2022 budget proposal, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed temporarily raising the child care subsidy eligibility level to 200% of poverty, and has also called for an increase in rates paid by the state to child care providers.
In the past, Michigan dedicated so few resources to child care that millions of dollars of unspent funds were returned to the federal government to be redistributed to other states. According to the report, Michigan is also at the bottom of the list of states for Federal Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF) funds for child care. In 2021, $12 million in TANF dollars was dedicated to child care, the first investment since 2011.
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on opportunity for all. Its mission is to advance economic security, racial equity, health and well-being for all people in Michigan through policy change. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.
The Kids Count in Michigan project, www.mlpp.org/kids-count, is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Ruth Mott Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund and the Battle Creek Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.
Think Babies Michigan, www.ecic4kids.org/policy-thinkbabiesmi/, is a prenatal-to-three policy collaborative of over 1,300 parents, advocates and organizations across the state working to make Michigan a top state to have a baby and raise a child.