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Whitmer announces details of expanded childcare plan

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer outlined plans Monday to use $1.4 billion dollars in federal COVID-19 funds to expand childcare in Michigan.

The governor traveled to a childcare center in Oakland County to present her plan, some of which will require approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature.Whitmer said employers need workers as the COVID crisis lifts — and parents who want to work need someplace for their kids to go. 

“Our recovery depends on access to quality affordable childcare” she said. “Our state’s economic recovery depends on us getting this right.”

Much of the funding under Whitmer’s plan would be directed to childcare centers in underserved areas, as well as expanded subsidies for families with children. She’s also called for better pay for childcare staff. She says her plan would make early childhood services available to 150 thousand kids who don’t have access now.

“The problem is care, right? There’s just not enough quality, affordable childcare that can meet the needs of Michigan’s families and children,” she said. “Data shows that childcare is the single biggest monthly expense for lower-income working families with children.”

That’s according to a Michigan Association of United Ways report released earlier this year that found childcare costs a lower income family made up of two adults, a preschooler and an infant an average of $1,122 per month.

Whitmer is expected to join with Republican and Democratic leaders in the Legislature on Tuesday to announce some policy agreements on childcare.

Representative Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) chairs the House Appropriations Committee. He said the House adopted a COVID spending plan in May that included money for childcare.

“There is a fair amount of overlap between what the House approved earlier this spring and what the governor announced today,” he said, “and there are some differences to work through. I am confident we will find common ground to move forward and make a real difference helping Michigan families meet their childcare needs.”

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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