In approving the state’s education budget early Friday morning, the GOP legislature and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also added investment in school safety measures and the teacher pension system, thanks to unexpectedly high state revenues this year.
Michigan officials launched the pilot, called Strong Beginnings, on the premise that high-quality education has profound benefits for all early learners, not just those who are a year away from kindergarten.
A consortium of newsrooms led by the nonprofit newsroom MuckRock is requesting child care data through Michigan Freedom of Information requests and conducting a first-of-its-kind data analysis of child care records. They will have stories and data to share in the coming weeks.
Roughly one-third of children in Michigan under age 5 qualified for child care subsidies, but only 5 percent received those credits. Meanwhile, an estimated 44 percent of Michiganders live in “child care deserts” — places with a lack of licensed child care providers.
Reducing the costs of child care is a rare point of bipartisan agreement, and many daycares are on the brink of bankruptcy. The deal also gives big boosts to colleges, cities and environmental cleanups.
The state’s economic recovery from the pandemic may be limited, officials say, as fewer child care options keep women out of the workforce. It’s a business issue, too, for child care providers seeking available workers.
A proposed $405 million infusion to the Great Start Readiness Program could come from federal COVID funds and the state’s school aid fund. It would provide free preschool to 17,000 more children from low- and moderate-income families.