Democratic lawmakers introduce child care bills aimed at saving Michigan families money - TAI News
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A group of children playing with toys on the floor. (BBC Creative / Unsplash)

On April 18, a group of Democratic Michigan lawmakers introduced a package of bills aimed at relieving some of the financial hardships of families and child care providers in the state.

The bill, titled Child Care for All, is sponsored by Michigan Sens. Kristen McDonald Rivet, Sarah Anthony, and Kevin Hertel, and Reps. Alabas Farhat, John Fitzgerald, Denise Mentzer, and Jaime Churches. The legislation includes eight bills and would require a $1.5 billion investment from the state.

According to a report released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2023, Michigan’s economy lost an estimated $2.88 billion due to the lack of child care availability. The state additionally lost around $576 million in tax revenue, and 14% of parents left jobs because of struggles with child care.

“These investments are not only necessary but non-negotiable for our state to become competitive, attractive to newcomers and supportive of our existing residents,” Farhat said last month, according to the website the ‘Gander.

The new plan includes:

  • A tax credit for low-income working families, House Bill 5640 and Senate Bill 838, earning under $63,398 and with investment income under $11,000. The credit is paid out monthly for a total of $5,500 per young child per family annually. 
  • An update and modernization to licensing requirements for child care providers, Senate Bills 837 and 839 and House Bills 5638 and 5639, making it easier and more affordable for child care programs to get licensed and remain open.
  • Tax subsidies to child care providers, Senate Bill 836 and House Bill 5637. These would give providers more money annually with adjustments for inflation, helping those providers who work with children with health conditions or impairments and in economically struggling regions in the state.
  • Recommendations will be made for budget improvements through grants and capital offered for licensed providers — particularly for those programs that serve infants and toddlers, to help keep programs operational while also improving workers’ wages.

The bills will now head to state Senate and House committees. If they advance out of committee, they will move to a floor vote in their respective chambers.

“Far too many parents across our state have to choose between paying their grocery bills or paying their childcare bills—and some make the difficult decision to leave the workforce altogether to become a full-time caregiver,” Hertel told the ‘Gander. “This crisis is harming families, harming children and harming our economy. If we want to build a Michigan where everyone can thrive, we must take actionable steps to improve care access, affordability, and quality.”

Child care programs in Michigan have been in a financial crisis since funding from the American Rescue Plan Act ended in September 2023, with demand outweighing availability and cost outweighing the average family’s ability to pay. The average salary in the state is below $50,000, according to ZipRecuriter, but the average annual cost of child care in the state is a little over $10,000 annually, Tootris reports. 

According to a statement from McDonald Rivet, Michigan has lost 40% of its child care providers.

“Years of patchwork fixes on a broken system have cost Michigan families and cost our economy,” McDonald Rivet said. “It’s past time to make the necessary public investment to set all our kids up for success, make child care affordable for parents and providers, and strengthen Michigan’s workforce.”

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