More Michigan families eligible for state child care assistance

LANSING — An expansion of Michigan’s child care assistance program is expected to cut costs for thousands of families in the state.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday (August 12) announced a bipartisan expansion of access to the Child Development and Care Program, making an additional 150,000 children and their families eligible.

The expansion aims to help working families find and pay for child care. For some, easing this burden would allow them to continue working.

Several parents in the Holland area spoke to The Sentinel earlier this year about how they “cannot afford to work” due to childcare costs. A mother found that caring for her two children would cost $1,720 a month.

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According to United Way’s 2021 ALICE report, the average monthly cost of childcare for a family with a baby and a preschooler was $1,122. The Michigan League for Public Policy reported that 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 said. “This expansion will help more families choose a child care provider that suits their child and their budget. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in supporting young children and families, and we’re not done working to make Michigan a great state in which to raise a family.

The exterior of the Harderwyk location of Lakeshore Little People in Holland.

To qualify for the Child Development and Care Program, also known as the Child Care Subsidy, families must meet several criteria. They must have a child under 13, need child care because they work or go to school, and have qualifying income.

Eligible income can be 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 has partnered with the Michigan Department of Education and the Early Childhood Investment Corporation to launch a new tool to determine eligibility. The tool is available at greatstarttoquality.org/calculator.

“Thousands of Michigan families have told us that finding affordable, quality child care is stressful,” said Dawne Bell, CEO of ECIC. “However, far too many families do not know if they are eligible. To help support families with young children, ECIC is proud to have helped create a simple tool that allows families to quickly find out if they can reduce their childcare costs.

The Imagination Station bus is in the parking lot on Tuesday March 8, 2022 in Zeeland.  According to data obtained by the state, more than 1,500 child care providers who submitted applications for Michigan's 2021 Child Care Stabilization Grant saw wait lists.  That's more than half of all centers applying for the grant.  Providers also report a vacancy rate of 20% for full-time providers and 34% for part-time providers.

This expansion is part of a $1.4 billion state investment to expand access to affordable, quality child care. This includes $700 million in grants to child care companies, $1,000 bonuses for up to 38,000 child care professionals, and a $100 million strategy to open 1,000 new child care programs. childcare by 2024 called Caring for Mi Future.

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It builds on the Mi Tri-Share childcare program, launched in March 2021. Through this program, the cost of an employee’s childcare is shared equally between the employer, the employee and the state.

Additionally, funding for the Great Start Readiness program has been increased so that an additional 22,000 4-year-olds can enroll in the free preschool program.

— Contact journalist Mitchell Boatman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.

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