(CBS DETROIT)- Affordable and adequate child care is in high demand, especially during the pandemic. During a press conference Monday, Governor Whitmer along with Lt. Governor Gilchrist and Oakland County dignitaries, announced a plan that will not only help working families in Michigan, but also childcare providers.

“There’s just not enough quality, affordable child care that can meet the needs of Michigan families and children,” said Governor Whitmer.

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From the play yard of the Babes in Toyland education center in Troy, Governor Whitmer announced a proposal that would invest $1.4 billion in federal child care funding.  She says the funding will make child care more affordable and expands access to high-quality child care statewide.

“Data shows that childcare is the single biggest monthly expense for lower income working families with children,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer says between February and December of 2020, over 130 thousand Michigan women left the workforce due to the cost of childcare during the pandemic. Now that many families are returning to work the need for affordable childcare is critical.

“Governor Whitmer’s plan will not only make childcare more affordable it will bring stability to an industry that has been rocked by a global pandemic” said Danielle Atkinson with Mothering Justice and a mother of 6 children.

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The proposal also includes a 20% pay increase for childcare employees and grants for existing and future childcare facility

According to a press release from the Governor’s office.

The Investment would.

Make child care more affordable for families

  • Increase income eligibility from 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL), $39,300 annually for a family of four, to 200% or $53,000 annually for a family of four from August 1, 2021 – September 30, 2023, making low or no-cost child care available to an estimated 150,000 more children. Thereafter, income eligibility permanently increases to 160% FPL, $41,920 annually for a family of four.
  • Increase access to the child care subsidy for student parents enrolled in Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners for a 12-month period. Individual student parents will leave the program per the exit requirements.
  • Support for early educators
  • Offer premium pay for child care professionals with stipends paid quarterly from July 2021 – September 2022.
  • Maintain mental health supports provided by infant and early childhood mental health consultants for children enrolled in child care.
  • Stabilize child care businesses
  • Raise child care subsidy rates by 20% for providers to move closer to the market rate for child care.
  • Provide business stimulus grants to all child care providers to help them remain open and serving Michigan families.
  • Expand access to child care
  • Provide grants to new and expanding sites in communities without adequate child care (10% of the ARPA stabilization grants is proposed to be set aside for this purpose).

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April Morton