Childcare providers call on state government to increase pay 

By: - May 8, 2023 12:07 pm

“Show us the money. Our families matter. Stop cheating us out of our money,” Roquesha O’Neal, a Mothering Justice organizer said during the rally. | Ken Coleman

Mothering Justice, a Detroit-based racial and gender justice advocacy organization, held a rally and news conference on Monday in Detroit to continue its call for an increase in childcare provider pay.

About 150 men, women and children chanted: “What do we want? More money. When do we need it, now!” and “No contract, no work.” 

The effort, held outside state government offices at Cadillac Place in Detroit’s Midtown section, was another in a series of public demonstrations designed to call attention to the cost of childcare. 

Childcare providers detail challenges in roundtable with Gilchrist

“Mothers and grandmothers, especially Black and Brown mothers and grandmothers, have been shouldering the burden of a childcare system that is on the brink of collapse for too long,” Mothering Justice stated in a written statement before the rally. 

The annual mean wage of childcare workers in Michigan in May 2022 was between $27,860 and $31,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual household income federal poverty line level for a family of four in 2023 is $30,000.  

During the early months of the pandemic, the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer administration used federal COVID-19 relief funds to provide supplemental income for state childcare providers. It amounted to $368 million in grants to childcare programs across the state. 

Through grant funding, the administration provided resources to more than 5,500 childcare programs and provided nearly 38,000 workers with $1,000 bonuses for full-time staff. The grant funding will end in September, according to Toyja Bridges, Mothering Justice childcare organizer. 

“They can find the money. We’ll help them,” Bridges said. 

The Advance has reached out to Whitmer’s office for comment.

Rally participants are calling for state government officials to identify new sources of funding to either meet the current rate of pay for childcare providers, or provide an increase. 

“Show us the money. Our families matter. Stop cheating us out of our money,” Roquesha O’Neal, a Mothering Justice organizer said during the rally. 

Bridges told the Advance that her organization will host a Zoom meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday designed to further persuade state government officials to appropriate funding to increase childcare provider pay. 

During a roundtable discussion with childcare providers held in March, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said he understood their concerns. 

“We want our brightest and best to see this as a pursuit,” said Gilchrist about administration efforts to provide more education resources, including pay. 


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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history 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.