Advocacy News – October 7, 2021
Access to quality and affordable childcare continues to be a significant barrier to employability. Bipartisan legislation passed by the House Wednesday is a good step toward improving access to affordable childcare in Michigan.
The legislative package (House Bills 5041 and 5043-48) is aimed at providing the flexibility needed to help providers start – and stay in – business while continuing to prioritize the safety of Michigan children. It now advances to the Senate for further consideration. It is aimed at eliminating some of the government red tape that has made it so hard for day-care centers and in-home providers to succeed and ensure that families have access to more convenient and affordable options in their communities.
State research has shown that 75 percent of children in Michigan live in areas with limited access to childcare. In addition, ten Michigan counties do not currently have licensed slots at centers that serve children younger than 30 months.
A 2019 report by the National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance detailed the key factors that have led to the decreasing number of in-home providers across the country, finding an extensive amount of regulations, start-up and operational expenses and low compensation rates for providers to be the main barriers.
Specifically, the bills include regulatory reforms that will:
- Offer enhanced reporting requirements and more concise regulation to let high-quality providers thrive while bad actors are held accountable.
- Expand access in areas where families live and work by offering a safe path for providers to utilize multi-use buildings.
- Help parents access health and safety information by allowing providers to share certain records online.
The House passed legislation comes on the heels of an appropriation in the new Fiscal Year 2022 budget, which took effect on October 1. The budget $1.4 billion in federal COVID relief dollars to help make childcare more affordable and accessible to Michiganders. It does so by providing grants, increasing the income eligibility threshold and temporarily boosting provider reimbursement rates.
The Chamber voiced its support for both the legislative package and the appropriation. We believe solving the childcare issue can help break down a key barrier to employability and help employers fill their talent pipeline.
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