State lawmakers need to spend more to make child care in Michigan affordable and high-quality. That’s the message in a report prepared for the state Department of Education.
Michigan helps working families with child care through the Child Development and Care program. But the report says the program and all childcare need to improve in five key areas:
- Increase financial assistance to families
- Increase access to quality child care providers
- Make it easier for providers to improve their programs
- Increase access to quality information
- Support the early childhood workforce
Bill DeSessa is a spokesperson for the Department of Education. He says the problems go beyond money.
“The bottom line is child care is an issue,” he said. “And this, this is a study that identifies things to do. It’s not just a study that says ‘hey, we need to spend more money in Michigan.’”
The study shows that Michigan spent $280 million less in 2015 than it did in 2003 on its state-controlled program. Jeff Guilfoyle is the vice president of the company that did the study.
“The amount that we are willing to pay for childcare as a state, what the state will pay, and the eligibility threshold are both pretty low compared to what you see in most other states,” he said. “So it can be a real challenge for low income families here, more so than in other states, to get access to high quality care.
For the past several years Michigan missed out on tens of millions of dollars in grant money from the federal government. Had the state spent $7 million more in 2016, it would have received $20 million in federal funds. Guilfoyle says this has gone on for several years. He says it’s partly because the state's strict requirements have excluded many potential participants. That means the state hasn't spent enough of its own money to qualify for the federal match.
You can find the full report here.