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Michigan pledges $130M to help parents afford child care

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a $130 million program Wednesday to help parents afford child care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Child Care Relief Fund will commit $100 million in federal CARES Act funds plus $30 million from Michigan’s child care fund to be used for child care services, Whitmer said in a news release.

 “Child care providers have been critical partners in helping our state respond to COVID-19, and we are extremely grateful for their service,” Whitmer said. “Every child care provider and early educator is important in giving parents some peace of mind while they are delivering essential services to our state at this challenging time.”

Hertel: A credit for funds paid toward child care would help many up-and-coming Michigan families.

Licensed child care centers, family group homes, tribal child care providers, provisional disaster relief child care centers and subsidized license exempt providers are all eligible for grants.

Whitmer said the direct, non-competitive grants to child care providers will help ensure that child care providers serving essential workers remain open, and costs of providing care during the pandemic are not passed on to those workers. 

The program also is aimed at ensuring that child care providers that aren't operating can reopen when the state's economy reopens after the pandemic wanes.

Grant recipients must agree to reduce their weekly rates at least 10% and provide care for children of essential workers regardless of where their parents or caregivers work. Grant recipients must also agree not to charge a fee to hold a child’s spot in a program while receiving grant funds.   

“These funds will help sustain high quality child care that is vital for Michigan’s children and families,” said state school Superintendent Michael Rice. “Whether it’s to help child care providers cover fixed costs like their mortgage, utilities, insurance, or payroll, we wanted the funds to be as flexible as possible to meet their specific needs.” 

The Child Care Relief Fund will be administered by the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Child Development and Care – with support from the governor’s office and the Michigan Department of Labor and Regulatory Affairs. Beginning Wednesday, an application for child care providers to request funding is available at www.michigan.gov/childcare.