by Scott McClallen
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer welcomed the expansion of free or low-cost child care to 105,000 more kids via the expanded income eligibility criteria in the latest bipartisan budget.
Families of four earning up to $49,000 will be eligible for free or low-cost child care under new criteria, helping parents return to work
“We need to continue working hard to drive down costs for families and expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare so parents can go to work knowing that their kids are safe and learning,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I was proud to put childcare first in the bipartisan budget I signed in September. Together, we lowered costs for working families by expanding low or no-cost care to 105,000 kids and providing grants to improve childcare programs and empower childcare professionals. Countless working parents rely on childcare, and we must continue expanding high-quality care to help every working family thrive.”
Family contributions (the amount parents receiving state child care support must pay toward care costs) are waived for about 40,000 families receiving state child care support until September 30, 2022.
“Workforce shortages have become the top concern among most small business owners. Providing support to Michigan families for quality childcare will make it possible for more parents to reenter and stay in the workforce,” Small Business Association of Michigan President Brian Calley said in a statement. “This bipartisan initiative to remove barriers to employment will to [sic] be a game changer for many Michigan families.”
The goal of the package is to lure parents back into the workforce. Michigan witnessed a labor shortage pre-pandemic. As of Aug 2021, the workforce remains 4.1% below the February 2020 level.
“Today there are still over 200,000 women who haven’t returned to the workforce. Access to affordable childcare that meets their needs is a huge reason why. Increasing access to state childcare support helps women continue their economic recovery and strengthens Michigan families,” Chair of the Michigan Women’s Commission Muna Jondy said in a statement.
Eligible families must apply to receive child care support through the Child Development & Care Program, commonly called the child care subsidy. To qualify, families must be income-eligible, have a child under age 12, and have an eligible need, such as working or going to school. Visit NewMiBridges.Michigan.gov to apply.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.