Whitmer calls for $1.4 billion spending on Michigan childcare

By: - June 14, 2021 4:56 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Troy on June 14, 2021 | Ken Coleman photo

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced a proposal to invest $1.4 billion in federal child care funding to expand access to high-quality child care, make child care more affordable, and support child care professionals as part of her administration’s Economic Jumpstart Plan.

“All families deserve access to quality child care that meets their needs and the investments I’ve announced today will make child care more attainable and affordable for Michigan families,” said Whitmer during a press conference in Troy. “My plan will support Michigan child care businesses and honor child care professionals by providing more financial support and security to providers. I’ve pledged my support for early educators and this approach will deliver that support.”

The plan helps people go back to work and support their families while giving them the peace of mind to know that their children are safe and learning. The measure would be in addition to nearly $300 million from a previous round of federal COVID-19 aid included in Whitmer’s budget proposal. It remains under consideration in the GOP-led Legislature.

Michigan House Appropriations chair Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) said that he is “encouraged” by Whitmer’s plan. 

“I am confident we will find common ground to move forward and make a real difference helping Michigan families meet their child care needs,” said Albert through a statement. 

The two rounds of stimulus funding passed through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allow for expanded investment above the $241.5 million Michigan receives annually in federal Child Development and Care program dollars specifically for child care. 

Whitmer’s plan includes:

  • Increasing income eligibility from 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL), $39,300 annually for a family of four, to 200% or $53,000 annually for a family of four from Aug. 1, 2021 – Sept. 30, 2023, making low or no-cost child care available to an estimated 150,000 more children. Thereafter, income eligibility permanently increases to 160% FPL, $41,920 annually for a family of four.
  • Increasing access to the child care subsidy for student parents enrolled in Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners for a 12-month period. Individual student parents will leave the program per the exit requirements. 
  • Support for early educators 
  • Offering premium pay for child care professionals with stipends paid quarterly from July 2021 – September 2022
  • Maintaining mental health support provided by infant and early childhood mental health consultants for children enrolled in child care 
  • Raising child care subsidy rates by 20% for providers to move closer to the market rate for child care 
  • Providing business stimulus grants to all child care providers to help them remain open and serve Michigan families
  • Expanding access to child care 
  • Providing 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)

“When our children succeed, America succeeds,” said U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills). “When Congress passed The American Rescue Plan, we made historic federal investments to provide $1.4 billion dollars for Michigan to improve the affordability, availability and quality of child care for working Michigan families.’’

Sue Tolley-Graf, executive director of Troy Babes in Toyland, said “child care is the backbone of our nation’s economy.”

“The importance of early childhood educators cannot be overstated, and we are grateful Governor Whitmer is committed to investing in this critical industry,” said Tolley-Graf during the press conference. 

Danielle Atkinson, founder of the non-profit Mothering Justice, stated that the Whitmer funding proposal is greatly needed.

“Parents and children deserve better,” said Atkinson, the mother of six children under the age of 13.

 

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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