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Gov. Whitmer, lawmakers call for eased child care restrictions

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 5:34 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Governor Whitmer and state lawmakers want to make it easier for child care providers to do their job.

A new package of bills introduced Tuesday does just that.

The legislation would allow providers more freedom when it comes to their location, like in a strip mall or other multi use location.

We spoke with Kendra Nichols who runs Elite Early Learning Center in Owosso. She’s feeling a bit skeptical.

“I would never want to open a child care center that I knew was not 100 percent compliant and safe already for children to be in,” Nichols said.

Safety is her top priority at Elite, and that safety comes at a hefty price.

For example, the fire alarm system inside Elite cost her $30,000 alone.

“I support that we have educated licensing consultants out there that have been doing it for a long time, and they know what buildings would be safe and what buildings they should license and what buildings they shouldn’t,” she said.

The legislation also would allow for more health and safety records to be accessed online and would allow a 90-day grace period for providers to come into compliance with new rules.

It’s unclear what kind of health and safety information would be available online and what rules lawmakers are referring to.

Nichols applauds the governor and lawmakers for bringing childcare to the forefront, because she knows the critical role it plays in a child’s development.

However, she’s cautious about the efforts to lift some of the red tape.

“We will never sacrifice quality, safety, or any of that. That is something we pride ourselves on and the reason we call ourselves Elite,” she said.

The bill would also mean more kids in each group -- from 1 adult to every 6 kids to 1 adult for every 7 in a home day care setting.

Lawmakers and the governor -- calling the legislation a first step and strong start to addressing childcare needs in the state.

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