LANSING, Mich. — Today Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D–Taylor) and Sen. Jim Ananich (D–Flint) introduced a five-bill package of legislation that would improve state child care assistance and upgrade the system so that it better aligns current practices with the actual needs of families and children served.

“Child care is an essential need for working parents, but unfortunately with increasing rates, it’s simply becoming too expensive for many low-income families,” Sen. Hopgood said. “It’s time that Michigan truly starts to invest in providing this basic resource to ensure that high-quality child care programs are attainable for families.”

Research shows that high quality child care can reduce employee absenteeism, encourage economic growth and promote healthy child development. But for many Michiganders, the cost of that care is increasingly unaffordable.

“Increasing access to affordable, quality child care strengthens our community and helps our economy,” Sen. Ananich said. “Parents who are working hard and raising children should not have the added stress of worrying about whether their kids are safe, or if they will be able to scrape together enough in their paycheck to cover the next bill.”

According to Child Care Aware of America, a single parent with two children in Michigan pays 82 percent of his or her income towards center-based care and nearly 50 percent of his or her income towards center-based infant care. Meanwhile, as the cost of child care continues to increase, state funding for child care subsidies have decreased by 70 percent between 2005 and 2014.

A recent report published by the Michigan League for Public Policy stated that child poverty rates have increased in 80 out of 83 counties in Michigan since 2006, and there has been a 23 percent rate increase in child poverty statewide.

Their proposed legislation would help address these sobering statistics. Sen. Hopgood’s bills would:

  • Increase the eligibility for child care assistance to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, from 125 percent.
  • Reimburse child care providers on a weekly — not hourly — basis, making it easier for high quality child care providers to accurately predict their income.
  • Allow parents to use child care assistance while they complete certain degree programs.
  • Extend the Great Start Readiness program to 3-year-old children.

Sen. Ananich’s bill would create a private sector matching program where the state provides a dollar-for-dollar match to private entities that would provide child care services to eligible families.

“The sooner, and earlier, we can start providing hard-working Michigan families with the resources they need, the better off Michigan’s children will be,” Sen. Hopgood said. “We are one of the most expensive states in the nation when it comes to child care, and our assistance programs are among the least robust. We have the opportunity to change that.”