State and local leaders are highlighting the MI Tri-Share Child Care program’s early and ongoing success and encouraging more communities and employers to take advantage of the innovative program that is improving access and affordability of child care for Michiganders most at risk of having to choose between keeping their job or caring for their children.
“The innovative Tri-Share program will help more families afford child care, ensure businesses can keep staffing up, and grow Michigan’s economy,” Gov. Whitmer said. “No Michigan parent should have to choose between caring for their children and staying employed in a job their family needs in order to put food on the table. We are actively recruiting more participants – employers and employees – and we won’t rest until this vital program extends to all 83 counties so that Michiganders across the state have access to child care that won’t break their family budget.”
Launched about 18 months ago by Governor Whitmer and a bipartisan majority led by Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, R-Norton Shores, and others, Tri-Share splits the cost of child care equally between an eligible employee, their employer and the State of Michigan, with coordination being provided regionally by a facilitator hub. The program helps to partner private and public organizations to increase access to high-quality, affordable child care for working families. The program now covers 59 counties in Michigan and the city of Detroit.
Gov. Whitmer added, “Our state’s economic vibrancy depends on removing barriers to employment so that every person who wants to work can afford to work and every employer who needs current and future employees to grow their business has a talent pool to draw from.”
A coalition of Tri-Share leaders and participants joined forces today at a virtual event hosted by Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Susan Corbin and Michigan Women’s Commission CEO Cheryl Bergman. The bipartisan group included Rep. VanWoerkom, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Director of Government Affairs Nate Henschel, Detroit’s Hope Starts Here Director Denise Smith, Wolverine Coil Spring Co. (a Tri-Share business partner) Human Resources Manager Diane Peacock and Wolverine Coil Spring Co. employee Melissa Trotter (a Tri-Share parent-partner).
LEO Director Corbin pointed to studies showing that the high cost of child care often stands as a significant barrier to work for parents who want to stay on the job after the birth of a child but can’t make ends meet when faced with the significant dent child care puts in their family budget.
“Businesses throughout Michigan are taking notice of Tri-Share as a way to invest in their workers, retain their quality workforce and grow their talent pool,” Corbin said. “They also know sharing in the cost of child care is a powerful recruitment tool. Michigan has a great business climate, and with Tri-Share, employers will have the right tools to attract and retain qualified candidates who can afford to stay on the job and care for their family.”
“There was nothing good about the pandemic, but it did illuminate the issue of child care and its importance to our economy,” Bergman said. “Now our policy makers and employers are talking about child care as an economic driver and not just a family decision. Over 159,000 women have left the work force entirely in Michigan since Feb. 2020. The Michigan Women’s Commission is committed to removing barriers to work for women who want to join the work force, and Tri-Share is one solution.”
Rep. VanWoerkom praised lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who continue to work together to fund Tri-Share and support efforts to make child care affordable and accessible for all Michiganders whether they live in urban centers, suburbs or rural regions throughout the state.
“Tri-Share’s growth from a pilot program in three regions to its presence in more than two-thirds of Michigan’s counties illustrates both the problem – a lack of affordable and accessible child care – and part of the solution,” VanWoerkom said. “This is a great example of the strides we can make when we come together so that working families and our state’s economy can fully thrive.”
The legislature first funded Tri-Share as a pilot program in three regions, later expanding it to 11. The program has fully launched and now exists in 59 counties and the city of Detroit and continues to grow with more employers and employees enrolling as it gains wider awareness.
Henschel, from the Grand Rapids Chamber, also lauded the bipartisan origins of Tri-Share and predicted it would find continued success as awareness grows.
“Tri-Share was born out of the Grand Rapids Chamber with a large coalition of partners around the state to help address the growing childcare crisis our communities are facing,” Henschel said. “This initiative is the first of its kind in the country. We’re proud of our work on Tri-Share and thankful for the leadership of Gov. Whitmer, Rep. VanWoerkom, the Michigan Legislature and the entire coalition for its critical work on this issue so important to Michigan employers and working families.”
As an employer partner, Wolverine Coil Spring Co. saw Tri-Share as creating the perfect opportunity to help overcome the child care barrier that workers and potential workers often faced. They join employers and business experts from across the state who expect expanding the program will have a major impact on talent attraction and retention for participating employers like Wolverine.
“We got on board early because we knew the lack of high-quality affordable child care was hurting our employees and our business by shrinking the talent pool we needed to draw from in order for our business to thrive,” Wolverine Coil Spring HR Manager Diane Peacock said. “We see Tri-Share as good for our employees, vital for our business and great for Michigan’s economic future.”
Smith, the CEO of Detroit’s Hope Starts Here, one of the state’s newest regions to join the Tri-Share program, shared her thoughts on the vital role their organization will play as a facilitator hub and encouraged local employers to join them as they work together to provide critical child care solutions.
“Our work is to ensure more children and families from all walks of life have the tools they need to achieve their full potential and to ease their path to prosperity,” Smith said. “And I can tell you that Tri-Share is the right solution at the right time in Detroit and throughout Michigan.”
As the parent of 3-year-old Ava, Melissa Trotter – a single mother who works a department leader at Wolverine, was struggling to make ends meet after her mother and grandmother could no longer help with her child care needs.
“Child care was taking a big chunk of my check and I didn’t know how I was going to make it,” Trotter said. “When I signed up for Tri-Share, my world began to change for the better. Now I pay about $280 a month for child care and I can keep working at I job I love with the confidence that my daughter is safe with a quality child care worker who I can afford to pay.”
KEY TRI-SHARE GROWTH STATISTICS
- Tri-Share has grown from serving 9 counties in 2021 to serving 59 counties and the city of Detroit in 2022.
- During the same period, the number of facilitator hubs grew from 3 to 13 statewide.
- And in the last nine months, enrollment numbers have jumped from 27 to 96 employers, from 17 to 102 employees and from 19 to 130 children.
More information on Tri-Share is available at michigan.gov/TriShare.