LANSING, MI – More than 150,000 Michigan families are eligible for free or low-cost child care through a $1.4 billion investment made last year to expand affordable child care.
Under the bipartisan expansion, families with two kids earning up to $55,000 may qualify for help. The Michigan Department of Education and Early Childhood Investment Corporation launched a new tool Tuesday, Aug. 9 for families to determine if they’re eligible for aid.
“Child care is often the biggest expense in a family’s budget. That’s why I’m working across the aisle to put more money in their pockets by lowering the cost of child care and helping more parents go to work knowing their child is safe, happy, healthy, and learning,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a statement. “As parents, we all want what’s best for our children. This expansion will help more families pick a child care provider that’s right for their child—and their budget.”
Related: 44% of Michigan families live in a child care desert. State pilot program addresses accessible care.
To qualify for the Child Development and Care Program, also known as the child care subsidy, families must have a child under the age of 13, need child care because they’re working or going to school and have a qualifying income.
“We’ve heard from thousands of families across Michigan that finding an affordable, quality child care program is stressful. Thanks to the bipartisan expansion of child care access, more families are now eligible for free or low-cost child care; however, far too many families do not know if they qualify,” said a statement from Dawne Bell, CEO of the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.
Last fall, Whitmer allocated $1.4 billion in federal American Rescue Plan dollars as a part of the state’s efforts to treat child care as an economic development tool and get parents back into the workforce.
An estimated 44% of Michigan families live in a child care desert where there are not enough options. Meanwhile child care for two children eats up 27% of Michigan families’ incomes, according to the Center for American Progress.
Related: Lawmakers, Whitmer back plan aimed at improving child care access
The pandemic shined a spotlight on these needs with CAP estimating 101,713 Michigan parents made career sacrifices last year due to child care issues—up from 76,666 parents in 2019.
“We still have mothers that haven’t returned to the workforce. Lowering child care costs can be a gamechanger for families,” said a statement from Kelli Saunders, executive advisor at the Small Business Association of Michigan.
Michigan has launched other programs to boost child care access.
The Mi Tri-Share Child Care Program splits the cost of a worker’s child care three ways between the employer, employee and the state of Michigan. It’s now operating in 52 counties plus the city of Detroit.
Funding for the Great Start Readiness Program was increased under the state budget allowing 22,000 more children to enroll in Michigan’s free preschool program.
With the American Rescue Plan dollars, Michigan awarded $700 million in grants to nearly 6,000 child care businesses and provided $1,000 bonuses for 38,000 child care workers. Additionally, $100 million was invested to open 1,000 new child care programs by the end of 2024.
More on MLive:
Free preschool, extracurricular programs expanded in Whitmer’s budget proposal
Michigan spending $100M to open 1,000 new child care facilities by 2024
Second round of $1,000 bonuses available for Michigan child care providers