State Rep. Greg Markkanen’s plan to improve access to child care for families in the Upper Peninsula today was approved by the Michigan House with bipartisan support.
Markkanen, of Hancock, said the measures he helped sponsor will improve upon some overly burdensome regulations that have led to the steady decline in the number of in-home child care facilities statewide, particularly in rural Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
“In-home child care is hanging on by a thread in Michigan,” Markkanen said. “Providers have to deal with so much red tape and so many overburdensome regulations that it’s driving them out of business and preventing others from getting started. We’ve already reached a point where it’s incredibly difficult for families in many rural communities to find dependable child care options, and it’s only going to get worse if we don’t do something to fix the problem soon.”
Markkanen 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 in a seven-year span.
To help combat the problem, House Bills 5975-77 would:
- Ensure child care providers have at least 90 days to implement any new requirements issued by the state.
- Allow 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.
- Increase 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.
“A lack of access to child care has become a barrier that prevents parents from working, and the situation has become even more dire because of the coronavirus pandemic,” Markkanen said. “Our plan will benefit families, child care providers and local economies by creating an environment where child care providers can succeed and giving working parents more access to reliable child care, so they aren’t forced to leave the workforce.”
Markkanen’s plan now advances to the Senate for further consideration.
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