Child care providers across Michigan receive financial boost

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Child care providers that serve low-income areas in the state are set to receive an influx of funding that went unused during the coronavirus pandemic.

With many schools just days or weeks away from starting a new year, the timing couldn’t be better.

The need for child care has been increasing, especially coming out of the pandemic. For Kendra Nichols, who runs Elite Early Learning Center in Corunna, the funding increase certainly was news she wasn’t expecting, but something she’s very grateful for.

”This is exciting. This is what all child cares have been waiting for,” she said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill this week authorizing $105 million in unused federal child care funding to be distributed to providers in low-income areas, because they saw lower enrollment during the pandemic.

“Right now, it’s just maintaining. It is being able to pay our basic bills of Consumers, taxes and being able to just exist,” Nichols said.

The $105 million means providers will be retroactively paid to last October, amounting to a 40% increase in funding. The bill also requires the state to pay providers based on enrollment instead of daily attendance, which will certainly benefit Nichols.

She has 21 staff members and cares for anywhere between 20 to 30 kids at a time. While Nichols doesn’t know the exact amount she’s set to receive, she knows every single dollar helps, so she wants to make sure those dollars go far.

“It’s more about the educational component that goes along with it,” Nichols said. “It starts with your teachers, and for us you get what you pay for. And for here, we want them to be more than 18 and breathing. We want to invest in our teachers.”

Whitmer still is calling for an additional $1.4 billion in COVID-19 relief funds for child care in Michigan. The Legislature has to approve the spending first, but won’t consider it for a while because lawmakers are on summer recess.

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