LANSING — An expansion to Michigan’s child care assistance program is expected to lower costs for thousands of families in the state.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday, Aug. 12, a bipartisan expansion of access to the Child Development and Care Program, making 150,000 more children and their eligible families.
The expansion is aimed at helping working families find and afford child care. For some, easing that burden would allow them to continue working.
Several Holland-area parents spoke to The Sentinel earlier this year about how they “couldn’t afford to work” due to child care costs. One mom found that care for her two children would come out to $1,720 each month.
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According to the United Way’s 2021 ALICE Report, the average monthly child care cost for a family with an infant and preschooler was $1,122. The Michigan League for Public Policy reported the cost of full-time child care for one child rose from $563 in 2016 to $632 in 2020.
“Child care is often the biggest expense in a family’s budget,” Whitmer stated. “This expansion will help more families pick a child care provider that’s right for their child—and their budget. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made to support young kids and families, and we’re not done working to make Michigan a great state to raise a family.”
To qualify for the Child Development and Care Program, also called the child care subsidy, families must meet several criteria. They must have a child under age 13, need child care because they are or going to school and have a qualifying income.
The qualifying incomes are up to $36,620 for a family of two, up to $46,060 for a family of three and up to $55,500 for a family of four.
The state partnered with the Michigan Department of Education and Early Childhood Investment Corporation to launch a new tool to help determine eligibility. The tool is available at greatstarttoquality.org/calculator.
“We’ve heard from thousands of families across Michigan that finding an affordable, quality child care program is stressful,” stated Dawne Bell, CEO of the ECIC. “However, far too many families do not know if they qualify. To help support families with young children, ECIC is proud to have helped create a simple tool that lets families know quickly if they can lower their child care costs.”
This expansion is part of a $1.4 billion investment by the state to expand access to quality and affordable child care. That includes $700 million in grants to child care businesses, $1,000 bonuses for up to 38,000 child care professionals and a $100 million strategy to open 1,000 new child care programs by 2024 called Caring for Mi Future.
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It builds on the Mi Tri-Share Child Care Programme, launched in March 2021. Through that program, the cost of an employee’s child care is shared equally among the employer, employee and the state.
Additionally, funding for the Great Start Readiness program was increased so that an additional 22,000 4-year-olds can enroll in the free preschool program.
— Contact reporter Mitchell Boatman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.