Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed spending $1.4 billion to improve access to child care and improving wages for child care workers.
Part of Whitmer’s Economic Jumpstart Plan, the proposal would raise the threshold for receiving a state child care subsidy from 150 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four. The move would be in place from Aug. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2023, and affect some 150,000 children in Michigan.
After Sept. 30, 2023, the eligibility requirement would go down to 160 percent, or $41,920 for a family of four.
Whitmer’s plan would also increase subsidies to child care providers by 20 percent, provide them grants to remain open, and offer a $500 quarterly stipend to child care workers through September 2022.
Whitmer also wants to offer grants for new and expanding centers in communities that lack adequate child care.
“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,” Whitmer said in a statement. “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.”
State legislators would have to agree to the spending.
“I am encouraged the governor has joined the Michigan House in making child care a priority,” state Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, said in a statement. Albert also chairs the House Appropriations Committee. “There is a fair amount of overlap between what the House approved earlier this spring and what the governor announced today, and there are also some differences to work through. I am confident we will find common ground to move forward and make a real difference helping Michigan families meet their child care needs.”
The state House in May approved more than $1.4 billion in one-time federal support for child care, Albert noted. The funding includes grants and increases the subsidy threshold to 180 percent of the federal poverty level until September 2022 before keeping it at 160 percent.
Today’s proposal is Whitmer’s latest in a series of recent plans for using the billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funding that Michigan is receiving from the federal government.
Whitmer last week proposed using $405 million to expand access to early childhood education, and $250 million for state park infrastructure projects.
The proposal for expanding preschool access, known as Great State Readiness, gained support from business groups including Business Leaders for Michigan and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. The plan would increase preschool access to an estimated 22,000 children.
“Ensuring that Michigan is a ‘no wait’ state for eligible children is key to our future success. Fully funding this integral part of our early education system means 22,000 eligible children can get a strong start,” Grand Rapids Chamber President and CEO Rick Baker said last week. “The Grand Rapids Chamber remains a steadfast advocate for quality early childhood programming.”