LANSING, MI (STL.News) Governor Gretchen Whitmer celebrated the launch of the Child Care Stabilization Grant that will distribute $350 million in grants to give every full-time childcare professional a $1,000 bonus and keep childcare programs open and serving kids.
“Childcare is the backbone of a strong economy and childcare professionals and programs go above and beyond every day to care for our kids, helping them learn and grow in a safe environment,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I was proud to put childcare businesses and professionals first in the bipartisan budget I signed in September. By bringing both parties together, we were able to put Michiganders first and deliver every childcare professional a $1,000 bonus in recognition of their incredible sacrifices over the last 18 months, expand low or no-cost care to 105,000 kids, and help providers improve their programs. Countless working parents rely on childcare, and without the tireless, often thankless work of providers and professionals, working families would not be able to get back to work and pursue their potential. With this investment, we can ensure kids and working families succeed as we continue ushering in a new era of prosperity for our communities.”
“Childcare programs and working families with young children have been faced with a major crisis during this pandemic on top of the already existing long-term childcare crisis. Industry stabilization funding like this is a critical lifeline in starting to move the needle in the right direction,” said Laurie Fletcher, owner of a home-based childcare provider in Grand Rapids. “This investment will help to provide a lifeline to sustain the childcare programs that every community needs to help Michigan’s families return to and remain in their workplaces.”
“Childcare professionals are trusted to help our youngest children learn and grow, but their compensation doesn’t reflect the value they bring to our children and communities. Most teacher’s assistants make a little over minimum wage because that is all that the programs can afford. I’m grateful these grants include bonus pay for childcare professionals because they work very hard caring for our littlest learners. Parents need us so that they can keep working, and it breaks my heart to hear of good programs closing, and parents unable to find care,” said Kimberly Zehnder, owner of EduPlay Discovery Center in Frankenmuth.
“The Child Care Stabilization Grants are a step in the right direction for supporting the childcare industry in our state. I’m excited to be able to use this funding to support higher, more competitive wages for my staff and to keep our adult-to-child ratios lower without having to raise rates for families. I know that all three of our locations will benefit greatly from this support.” said Amy Ahola, owner of the Child Central Station Group Home Child Care and Child Central Station, LLC in Marquette.
“I’ve been serving children and families for over 24 years and the past 18 months have been the most challenging of my career. Funding from the Child Care Stabilization Grant will help me thank my hard-working staff and continue providing high-quality care 24 hours a day,” said Laurie Clark-Horton, owner of L.A.C.C. Child Care Academy, Inc. one of the largest free-standing facilities in Detroit. “I’ll be encouraging every childcare program in my network to apply for funding.”
The Child Care Stabilization Grant application is now open. Licensed childcare providers are eligible to apply and should visit Michigan.gov/childcare to review frequently asked questions and apply. Childcare professionals will be awarded bonuses directly from their employer and do not need to apply.
In September, the governor signed the Fiscal Year 2022 budget bill that includes game-changing investments in childcare and delivers on the kitchen-table issues that matter most to families, communities, and small business. The budget puts 167,000 Michiganders on a tuition-free path to higher-education or skills training, repairs or replaces 100 bridges while creating 2,500 jobs, and makes a $500 million deposit into our rainy day fund, the largest one-time ever, bringing its balance to nearly $1.4 billion, the highest ever.
Earlier this year, Governor Whitmer and legislature worked together to put Michigan students first and passed the largest significant education investment in state history, closing the funding gap between schools in Michigan and including a historic amount of resources for schools to hire more nurses, counselors, and social workers. Early investments in mental and social health help reduce crime in the long run.