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Michigan Poverty Task Force Visits Marquette to Discuss New Policy Recommendations, Access to Quality Child Care
August 16, 2022
Local leaders highlight child care among top challenges impacting rural communities
MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Michigan Poverty Task Force visited Marquette today to discuss their latest recommendations and share resources available to support families impacted by poverty. The task force recently released 29 new policy recommendations to lift struggling Michiganders out of poverty and improve their health outcomes, addressing issues such as lack of access to quality childcare in rural communities.
"These new set of recommendations are a significant step toward improving the lives of low-income Michiganders," said Kim Trent, who leads the task force and is the Deputy Director of Prosperity with the Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). "The Poverty Task Force has proposed innovative policy strategies to lift struggling Michiganders out of poverty.
The Task Force, convened by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2019, leverages the policy expertise of 14 state departments to create strategies that reduce poverty in Michigan. The 2021 report contained 35 recommendations, including 14 that have been adopted or have had significant momentum addressing gaps in the state’s social safety net, with critical investments included in Gov. Whitmer’s FY22 budget.
“The Poverty Task Force has worked very hard to create and promote policy solutions to lower costs and boost household incomes for hard-working Michiganders who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Susan Corbin LEO Director. “The recommendations are designed to fight poverty in Michigan’s urban and rural communities alike.”
2022 Recommendations were made in eight key focus areas:
- Housing, basic amenities and the environment
- Early childhood development
- Income and social protection
- Social inclusion and nondiscrimination
- Access to affordable health services of decent quality
- Food Insecurity
- Unemployment and Job Insecurity
“The 2022 budget made significant investments toward the needs of Michiganders, but there is more work that needs to be done to help strengthen families with kitchen-table issues,” said Andrew Rickauer, executive director at United Way. “We are happy to support these recommendations to help strengthen and assist struggling families in rural communities and throughout Michigan.
Tuesday’s event was held at the Lake Superior Youth and Family Center in Marquette. Task Force officials discussed their recommendations regarding child care, including a proposal calling for the creation of a state Rural Child Care Initiative. The initiative would be charged with accelerating the startup and expansion of licensed child care businesses in areas with more than three children under age 5 for every licensed child care slot.
The event also featured a discussion of the Michigan Tri-Share Child Care program. This initiative equally divides the cost of an employee's child care among eligible employees, their employer and the State of Michigan. Rhea Dever, associate vice president for human resources at Northern Michigan University (NMU), called the program a boon for both employers and families.
“Tri-Share helps to remove a major barrier for working parents and reduces monthly expenses that will give struggling Michigan families more money to take care of their basic needs," said Dever, whose institution offers the Tri-Share program to its employees. “It also expands the hiring pool for employers like NMU who seek to hire workers where child care costs have made it harder for them to participate in the workforce."
“The 2022 Poverty Task Force report includes numerous recommendations that can foster economic prosperity for all including new initiatives for expanding access to child care, affordable housing, and more,” said Christopher Germain, CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership (LSCP). “As a private-public partnership focused on economic development issues in Marquette County, the LSCP looks forward to following implementation of these items, including the Rural Child Care Initiative, in the coming years and building on the success of previous Task Force report recommendations.”
While most of the recommendations were introduced for the first time, the Task Force included five that were previously presented in the 2021 report that the group continues to support. The report also includes a section featuring 14 recommendations from the 2021 report that have been adopted or have momentum for adoption soon. Among them is the recommendation to boost the state’s earned income tax credit match, a proposal that could lift at least 22,000 Michiganders out of poverty.
The Poverty Task Force continues to work with the LEO and Gov. Whitmer in moving the needle forward on these recommendations and finding new ways to lift all Michiganders out of poverty.
More information on the Poverty Task Force is available at Michigan.gov/PovertyTaskForce.