Michigan is Desperately Trying to Make Private Child Care More Affordable



July 22, 2022

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ICYMI: Detroit Free Press: Michigan is Desperately Trying to Make Private Child Care More Affordable

LANSING, Mich. – After launching a plan to address the childcare shortage, Governor Whitmer has worked with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to expand access to high-quality and affordable child care, while delivering record funding to keep childcare programs open, and retain and hire childcare professionals. As a result, an additional 150,000 children in Michigan have access to no- or low-cost child care and nearly 6,000 childcare businesses in every county in the state have received support through the Child Care Stabilization Grant.

Detroit Free Press: Michigan is desperately trying to make private childcare more affordable

Key Points:

Autumn Jervis is not a babysitter, but she essentially gets paid like one. 

Every day, the 27-year-old lead preschool teacher at a child care facility in Ann Arbor aims to foster social and emotional growth for 24 kids between the ages of 3 and 5. She’s dedicated nearly a decade to the work, a true believer in the power that early education can have on shaping the life of a child. 

But the single mother can barely afford to send her own daughter to where she works. And Jervis could likely earn more if she left for a job at Starbucks.

Jervis is not alone: the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated long-standing problems that advocates and others say flummoxed the sputtering child care industry.


Acknowledging the problem, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, northern Michigan Republican Rep. Jack O’Malley and others worked together to change the law and allocate billions of dollars to stave off center closures.

It’s staved off closures and encouraged hundreds to pursue opening their own facilities, and a new pilot program aims to entirely reenvision how society supports child care. 

It’s already having a huge impact for Jervis, who now receives child care subsidies through the state’s new Tri-Share program that splits costs between employers, families and the state.

“It dropped my payment almost $300 (a month). That’s a lot: that’s gas for me to get to work, that’s groceries that we can have. Even just putting a little bit more money in my pocket so that we can go and do things in the summer,” Jervis said.


The pandemic forced many adults to juggle working and attempting to provide child care or education from home, underscoring the necessity for other options. In Michigan, that meant government intervention.

Over the past year, state leaders of both parties have changed regulations while allocating billions of dollars to help centers stay open and retain staff.


After years of work, O’Malley and a bipartisan group of lawmakers collaborated with the Whitmer administration to change child care center regulations. 

The eight-bill legislative package, signed into law in late June, slightly increases the number of children each staff member can supervise at small and medium centers, in theory helping create more revenue. The laws also allow centers to hire workers as young as 16 instead of 18, and require centers to post safety information online so that it’s easier for parents to access. 

The bills come one year after Whitmer announced a plan to invest $1.4 billion in Michigan’s child care system.


As of now, most of the $1.4 billion is either in the hands of child care centers or staff, according to data from the state. More than $700 million went to thousands of centers as “stabilization grants,” intended to prevent closures.

Another $100 million is part of a plan to open 1,000 new centers by the end of 2024. The money helps with startup and renovation costs, along with providing the training and recruitment tools needed for centers to thrive.

Larger centers received more than $100,000 on average, with smaller home-based sites receiving more than $10,000 on average, according to data collected by the Michigan Department of Education.

As part of these grants, almost 38,000 child care workers received bonuses. Full-time workers received $1,000, while part-time workers received $500.

Governor Whitmer’s Accomplishments

Every family in Michigan deserves access to safe, quality, affordable childcare that meets their needs—regardless of how old their kids are, where they live, how much they make, or their race, ethnicity, or immigration status. Governor Whitmer has put families and children first by prioritizing investments in our children’s earliest years. These investments put children on a path to success and strengthen our economy by helping parents return to work knowing their children are safe and learning

Expanding access to affordable early learning and care 

  • Expanded access to free preschool for 22,000+ more four-year-olds through Great Start Readiness Program and proposed grants to open classrooms in more communities. 
  • Expanded access to affordable childcare for 150,000 more children.  A family of four earning up to $55,500 are now eligible for free or low-cost childcare.
  • Kept childcare providers open and serving kids: 
  • Invested $700 million through the Child Care Stabilization Grant to provide operational grants to nearly 6,000 local childcare businesses. 
  • Invested $215 million to support over 7,000 childcare providers with emergency federal relief through the Child Care Relief Fund. 
  • Signed a budget providing $105 million in funding for childcare businesses that accept the childcare subsidy. 
  • Launched pilots of the Tri-Share program to expand childcare access to more families in 59 counties. 
  • Set an ambitious goal to open 1,000 more childcare programs by the end of 2024 and launched Caring for Mi Future—a $100 million strategy to get there. 

Strengthening Michigan families

  • Led by example by enacting paid parental leave up to 12 weeks for state employees.
  • Supported an expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit for nearly 2 million Michigan families.
  • Coordinated a statewide response to the national baby formula shortage.


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