Michigan’s Innovative Approach to Child Care Crisis
September 1, 2021
By Brian Calley, originally featured in our FOCUS magazine
Earlier this year, with substantial involvement from the Small Business Association of Michigan and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Governor Whitmer announced the start of the Michigan Tri-Share Child Care Pilot Program (Tri-Share model). This program is an innovative approach to increasing access to high quality, affordable child care for working families while simultaneously helping Michigan-based businesses retain talent and removing one of the largest barriers to employment.
Funded with a $1 million appropriation, the program is beginning to operate in three regional hubs of the state including Muskegon County, the Great Lakes Bay Region and Northwest Lower Michigan.
Each region has a designated “facilitator hub” with duties to serve as an intermediary between employers, families and child care providers. These hubs recruit employers to participate in each program and administer the payments to the involved parties to make it an easy program for businesses to provide for their employees.
For each employer involved in the pilot program, employees who make between 150–250 percent of the Federal Poverty Line will have the opportunity to have their child care costs split between themselves, their employer and the State of Michigan.
With a worker shortage and quality talent very difficult for small business owners to find, ensuring our system works efficiently to remove barriers to workforce entry—as well as providing individuals the ability to upskill—is of upmost importance.
With childcare averages of $210 per week, per child, in Kent County, we’re hopeful that new innovative programs such as the Tri-Share model can assist in easing the cost for some parents who face the tough decision of bringing in a second income or watching their children themselves.