Lansing, MI –
Perhaps the toughest part of this pandemic has been the necessary step of closing schools and shifting to virtual learning for most kids. The secondary effects of not having somewhere for the kids to go every day while both parents go to work has been devastating to families all over the state. However, help is on the way.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced yesterday a series of steps to expand access and availability of childcare to working families throughout the state. While still in the negotiation phase, the proposed legislation would:
- Make child care more affordable for working families by lowering out-of-pocket costs by 20%
- Make low or no-cost child care available to an estimated 150,000 more children.
- Increase access to the child care subsidy for student parents enrolled in Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners for a 12-month period.
- Support for early educators by increasing pay
- Provide business stimulus grants to all child care providers to help them remain open and serving Michigan families.
- Provide grants to new and expanding sites in communities without adequate child care (10% of the ARPA stabilization grants is proposed to be set aside for this purpose).
The fact of the matter is that over 130,000 women with children left the workforce entirely during the course of the pandemic. The number one reason they did so was to provide care for their children as schools and childcare centers closed, according to surveys conducted by the state. Getting the state back to work requires more access to childcare for parents with children.
“So as our recovery continues, so should our work center around working moms, who have borne the brunt of economic pain during the pandemic,” Gov. Whitmer said in a press conference on Monday.
Funds for these programs would provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lift up working families in the state, according to Lt. Gov. Garlan Gilchrist. “We have a chance to make a generational investment that will impact future generations in Michigan, allowing for parents to work and be even more productive and providing for an environment that children can thrive in,” he said during yesterday’s press conference.
We don’t live in a world where one parent can work and the other stay home to take care of the children any longer, for good or ill. Childcare is essential to the economic future of Michigan, and vital to attract more workers to the state long-term. With these proposed investments, Gov. Whitmer is attempting to build a future where every working family doesn’t have to worry about how they can afford care for their kids while mom and dad go to work.