State Rep. Jack O’Malley, of Lake Ann, today testified before the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee in support of his plan seeking to improve the child care landscape in Michigan.
O’Malley said the measures would boost access to quality child care for many working families and provide greater flexibility for providers by honing in on specific overly burdensome regulations that have led 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 in Michigan is hanging on by a thread,” O’Malley said. “Although it first came as a shock to me, the more I looked into the systematic problems child care providers and working families have communicated to me, this notion could not be more true. Something needs to be done – and quickly – before we reach a point that is beyond repair. These cost-effective solutions are the product of numerous round tables and workgroups with various child care providers who have firsthand experience with the current barriers handicapping child care in Michigan. This is just the beginning of many conversations around this far-reaching issue.”
The plan spearheaded by O’Malley:
- Increases the child-provider ratios for family home child care and group home child care. Family home child care facilities would be able to care for a maximum of seven children per one adult, up from six children. Group home child care facilities would be able to care for a maximum of 14 children per two adults, up from 12. The legislation allows providers to voluntarily increase their child-provider ratios if they have at least three years of experience running the child-care home and are in good standing with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
- Increases the number of children allowed at a child care center before and after school hours by three for family child care homes and by five for group child care homes without it counting against child-provider ratios.
- Provides a 90-day “grace period” for child care providers to implement any new requirements issued by LARA or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
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.
“The third leg of the stool to any thriving community is child care,” O’Malley said. “Michigan businesses and the state’s overall economy hinge on the ability of working parents to find reliable child care that allows them to work, and this is even more critical in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Child care providers are needed more than ever, and it’s on us as elected officials to hear their pleas for change and deliver meaningful reforms that allow them to stay afloat. Too much is at stake if we continue to turn a blind-eye.”
The legislation, House Bills 5975-5977, remains in the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee for further consideration.
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