STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Quality child care out of reach for many low-income Michigan families

young children in classroom
Day care subsidies began in the mid-1990s. The goal was to help people join the workforce and get off public assistance.

The first three years of a child's life are really important. Every experience and interaction builds connections in the brain that can last a lifetime. The more enriching the environment is, the better the brain develops. 

For working parents, this means that finding high-quality child care is essential. But quality doesn't come cheap. Day care can cost almost as much as in-state college tuition. The state of Michigan does provide a financial subsidy for child care, but it is reserved for the poorest of the poor. 

In fact, Michigan has one of the lowest cut-offs for state assistance in the nation--just over $24,000 for a family of three. So, a lot of low-income working parents find themselves in a catch-22. If they keep working, they're on the hook for an average of $200 per week in child-care costs. If they drop out of the work force to take care of children, they're eligible for subsidies they no longer need.  

Stateside's Cynthia Canty talked to Bridge Magazine's Nancy Derringer about her recent reporting on the issue of affordable child care in Michigan. She was also joined by Jessica Smith, an Ypsilanti mother who struggled to find care for her son after she learned she wasn't eligible for a state subsidy. You can hear the full interview here.

April Van Buren is a producer for Stateside. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.
Related Content