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Michigan Senate passes childcare bill package

Gabe Pierce

Legislation to help address Michigan’s childcare provider shortage passed the state Senate Wednesday.

The eight bills in the package range from increasing how many kids certain childcare homes can watch to making the results of any special investigation publicly accessible.

State Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) said the legislation would help daycare providers stay in business.

“It’s not very profitable," Schmidt told reporters after the Senate session Wednesday. "People are getting out of daycare. Hopefully this is a step forward in removing some of the barriers.”

Another regulatory change in the package would give childcare facilities a 90-day grace period to make any changes to implement any new rules from the state’s regulatory agency.

State Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) said it took multiple legislative sessions to get everyone affected by the proposed changes on board.

“Everybody has their stake but it’s for the greater good. In-home daycare is different than center. Rural is different than urban. So let’s figure out what works for all, give a little bit on your ground. And people did and that’s why things are finally going to happen,” he said.

O’Malley said the legislation would help spur an increase in childcare providers by giving them more support.

The package passed the Senate with wide bipartisan support.

Supporters have said the legislation is necessary to help address the need for childcare providers in both urban and rural parts of the state.

Citing pre-pandemic data, the Michigan League for Public Policy estimated infant care to cost around $10,861 per year in the state.

That’s as Michigan is lacking in care providers.

State Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) sponsors a bill he said would make it easier to open new childcare locations in underserved areas.

“We think that there’s a lot of externalities in solving this issue and what that’ll mean for our economy, getting kids ready for school, providing relief for working families, and then obviously at the forefront, making childcare more affordable and making quality care more accessible across Michigan,” Puri said.

The House of Representatives still needs to agree to some Senate changes to the bills before the entire package can go to the governor.

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