The Michigan House of Representatives this week approved state Rep. Jack O’Malley’s sweeping plan improving the child care landscape across the state to better reflect the needs of providers and working families.
O’Malley, of Lake Ann, said the measures would boost access to quality child care for many working families and provide greater flexibility for providers by targeting specific overburdensome regulations that have attributed to the steady decline in the number of in-home child care facilities statewide – particularly rural Michigan. Furthermore, he stated the plan is just the beginning to providing a much-needed remedy to an even larger issue.
“Child care across Michigan is hanging on by a thread,” O’Malley said. “Between the mountain of red tape and unforgiving regulations to sift through, it’s no wonder our communities are witnessing a drastic decline in the number of in-home child care providers. Systematic problems within the state’s child care landscape have reached a tipping point and they need to be addressed before it’s too late. I have made it one of my primary goals to get to the crux of this issue and develop cost-effective solutions for the current barriers handicapping providers and working families. Through numerous round tables and workgroups with those with firsthand experience in the child care and workforce development sectors, we have been able to identify three key areas to begin tackling this far-reaching issue.”
The plan spearheaded by O’Malley:
- Ensures child care providers have at least 90 days to implement any new requirements issued by the state.
- Allows home and group home child care providers that are in good standing with the state and meet certain square footage requirements to slightly increase their child-provider ratios. Under the plan, family home facilities would be able to care for a maximum of seven children per adult, up from six. Group home child care facilities would be able to care for a maximum of 14 children per two adults, up from 12.
- Increases the number of children allowed at family and group home child care facilities during the hours before and after school without it counting against child-provider ratios. Family and group home facilities would be allowed an additional two children during these hours.
O’Malley said the number of in-home child care providers across Michigan is dropping at an alarming rate. A 2019 Public Sector Consultants study commissioned by the Michigan Department of Education found the number of family and group child care home providers declined as much as 38 percent within a seven-year span.
“They key component to any thriving community is access to child care,” O’Malley said. “Michigan businesses and the overall economy rely on parents’ ability to find child care slots for their children so they can continue to remain in the workforce. Too often are parents – disproportionately mothers – forced to leave their careers due to the lack of child care availability. Child care providers are needed more than ever, and we have great opportunity to deliver impactful reforms that will improve Michigan’s child care landscape to better reflect the needs of providers and parents.”
The legislation, House Bills 5975-5977, now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
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