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State on fast track to exceed goal for more child care centers

State of Michigan hopes to add 1,000 new child care centers by 2024
Aaron Burden
State of Michigan hopes to add 1,000 new child care centers by 2024

Nearly 700 new child care centers have opened in the past year in Michigan, due to a new $100 million state grant program.

And the state says more than 1,800 existing child care businesses have expanded.

That pace means the program could meet its 2024 target of 1,000 new child care centers early, perhaps by the end of 2023.

Emily Laidlaw is director of the state's Child Care Licensing Bureau. She said child care options shrank dramatically in the pandemic, so it's exciting to see the regrowth of the industry.

"I've got to tell you that I did not anticipate the level of enthusiasm across the state, but it is an excellent problem to have," she said.

Laidlaw said grants are available for the prelicensure stage, as well as startup and facility improvement grants. Funding can also be used to train and subsidize the wages of child care workers.

Tenesia Evans owns the just-opened Boss Baby Early Learning Center in Eastpointe. She said she couldn't have done it without prelicensure and startup funding.

"It has really been a dream come true, for over 20 years, of owning my own in-home day care. My center has become a reality," she said.

Evans said the need for more child care is obvious. She said her 30-child facility is already full, and there's a waiting list of 100 families.

Laidlaw said there are still grant funds left, so she encourages people who are considering starting or expanding a child care business to apply for state assistance.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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