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STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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Policy

Michigan child care options pushing low-income families out

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Michigan League of Public Policy
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Child care is an absolute necessity for working families -- and their employers. Nearly two-thirds of preschool age children in the U.S. live in homes where both caregivers work. So healthy and reasonably priced child care is essential for parents. 

What happens when affordable, high-quality child care isn't an option?

A report published this week by the Michigan League for Public Policy found Michigan's current child care subsidy program is failing to provide quality child care to families with children at a rate they can afford.

Working parents must be part of a very low income bracket - below 121% of poverty (under $30,000 for a family of four) to receive a child care subsidy from the state. There are only 3 states with a lower income eligibility level than Michigan - Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio. 

It hasn’t always been this way. Child care subsidy program funding in Michigan has been reduced by over 70% since 2005.

The number of families receiving subsidized care has declined by two-thirds. Those parents who have been cut are left with two options: quit their job to take care of their children, or rely on relatives and child care centers that haven't gone through the state's licensing process. Plenty of those providers aren't trained and many of those centers aren't safe. 

The economics of daycare are not a new problem in the state. Lamanda Coulter told State of Opportunity back in 2012 how hard it was for her to find work after leaving her job to care for her daughter. She was one of the few lucky ones, getting an Early Start scholarships for babies.

The report also reveals Michigan does not have enough inspectors to ensure licensed child care facilities meet basic state health and safety standards.

How bad is it? Inspectors in Michigan are supposed to be monitoring 150 centers each-triple the federal guidelines. You can read the whole report here.

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