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Whitmer, Legislative Leaders Agree On COVID Funds For Childcare

Gautam Arora via Unsplash

There appears to be a deal between Democrats and Republicans in Lansing on plans to make early childhood programs more available and more affordable to more families. The deal includes using federal COVID-19 funds to make childcare more affordable and regulatory changes to encourage more providers to enter or remain in the field.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer stood alongside a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the state Capitol to make the announcement.

She said this would help meet a pressing need that predates the health crisis.
“Working families have long relied on childcare to support their children’s early development and to make their lives work,” she said.

“COVID has been a reminder that childcare is truly essential to our economy, too. The problem is that there are simply not nearly enough childcare opportunities that meet the needs of our Michigan families.”

“This is not a system that’s working for hard-working people in our state,” agreed Representative Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann). He said the lack of affordable child care is a burden on people in his northern Michigan who want to get back to work but can’t afford it.

“The issue is not new,” he said. “It has been getting worse for years as all providers, but especially in-home have found it harder to stay in business. Upwards of half of the in-home day cares in our state have given up.”

That’s from a 2019 report commissioned by the Michigan Department of Education.

The bills are expected to be formally introduced this week.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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