Senators Hopgood, Ananich, Hertel and Johnson introduce bills to expand child care programs, reduce costs

LANSING, Mich. — Today Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D–Taylor) and Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint), along with Senators Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–East Lansing) and Bert Johnson (D–Highland Park), introduced a five-bill legislative package, SB 229-233, that would improve and expand child care programs, and capture federal dollars that are available to the State of Michigan under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014.

“Finding quality, trusted child care at an affordable cost is something that all working parents struggle with on a daily basis,” Sen Hopgood said. “We have an opportunity to receive tens of millions of dollars in federal funding by investing just a fraction of the total cost in high-quality child care for all families, regardless of income bracket. Working families can’t afford the state leaving this kind of money on the table.”

According to a report by New America, child care costs are now more expensive than in-state public college tuition. In Michigan, the average cost for child care is an astronomical $13,898, or 27 percent, of the combined income for two parents. Adding to these skyrocketing costs has been a significant decrease — by 70 percent between 2005 and 2014 — in state financing for child care reimbursements. 

While state funding for child care has declined across the board, a recent report published by the Michigan League for Public Policy found that child poverty rates have increased in 80 of 83 counties in Michigan since 2006. Parents are being forced to decide between paying for high-quality child care that boosts future educational performance, or finding cheap, unlicensed child care that fits within their budget.

“The sooner and earlier we can start providing hardworking 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.” 

If passed, Sen. Hopgood’s proposed legislation, SB 229 and 230, would:

Sen. Ananich’s bill, SB 232, would create a matching program where the state provides a dollar-for-dollar match to local municipalities or private entities that provide child care services, effectively doubling the money available to child care programs under this bill.

“As a parent, I know that our state’s child care system is complicated and outdated,” Sen. Ananich said. “We’re going to update and streamline it so that it provides all parents with some financial peace of mind, and our children with an educational head start to ensure their future success.”

Sen. Hertel’s bill, SB 231, would reimburse child care providers on a weekly — not hourly — basis, and streamline a complicated reimbursement program to cut costs. 

“Child care providers are facing mounting financial uncertainties as they seek to provide the highest quality of care for our children, which are being transferred to families in the form of inflated child care costs,” Sen. Hertel said. “Simplifying the reimbursement system is a change that will make the system more efficient.”

Sen. Johnson’s bill, SB 233, would allow parents to use child care assistance while they complete higher education degree programs.

“Now, more than ever, Michiganders are pursuing further education as a means to improve their career outlook,” Sen. Johnson said. “Our state should encourage parents who make that investment in their future by expanding child care assistance to account for graduate degrees.”

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