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Michigan Women's Commission releases results of statewide Survey on Child Care Use, continues to advocate for expanded child care option

The Michigan Women’s Commission (MWC) released the results of their statewide Survey of Child Care Use During the Pandemic and the Department of Technology, Management and Budget’s (DTMB) preliminary research on women in the 2020 Michigan workforce.

Conducted from September through October last fall, MWC’s Survey of Child Care Use During the Pandemic shows that a majority of parents prefer to care for their children themselves in their home or use family and friends for child care during the pandemic. When asked about post-pandemic, nearly half of the respondents report a desire to send their kids outside the home to licensed child care centers. 

“High-quality, affordable child care is critical to the success of Michigan’s children, families and economy,” said Governor Whitmer. “To give working parents a much-needed boost, my executive budget recommendation invests $370 million to significantly lower childcare costs, in some cases down to zero. This game-changing investment in early learning will provide access to quality, affordable childcare for 150,000 additional families. It immediately and directly helps parents continue working while giving them the peace of mind to know that their kids can continue to grow and learn.”

“What this tells us is that there will soon be a dramatic and immediate surge in demand for licensed child care options at a time when Michigan’s child care infrastructure is already in need of support for staffing, slot availability and overall sustainability,” said Danielle Atkinson, MWC Commissioner and Founder of Mothering Justice.  

Nearly a third of the respondents report using the help of family members during the pandemic to support their child care needs.  Others indicated that having the ability to work remotely (21%) and having flexibility around their work schedule (16%) also aided with caring for their children in their homes during this time. Although not specifically asked in the survey, approximately 2.2% of respondents self-reported that they had to leave the workforce to take care of their children and approximately 1.7% indicated that their spouse had to leave the workforce to care for their children.

“According to our recent estimates, over 125,000 Michigan women have left the workforce entirely since February 2020, and the unemployment rate for women in Michigan is double what it was pre-pandemic,” said Ruth Archer, Strategy Officer, Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, DTMB.

“COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the challenges working mothers faced well before there was a global pandemic,” said Shannon Garrett, MWC’s Chief Strategy Officer. “Michigan’s mothers of color, in particular, have long been sounding an alarm about the unsustainable balance required to work frontline and essential jobs without the availability of flexible, safe and affordable child care options.”

“The Michigan Women’s Commission is committed to working alongside our partners in the public and private sectors to further expand child care options, strengthen our licensed care infrastructure and build bold, innovative supports for Michigan’s working mothers,” said JoAnn Chavez, MWC Commissioner and Vice President of DTE Energy. “To achieve a thriving economy for everyone in Michigan, government and businesses must work together to remove barriers preventing women from fully participating in our work force.”

According to MWC’s CEO Cheryl Bergman, “Under the leadership of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan has expanded eligibility for child care subsidies to include more families, helped sustain or reopen nearly 90% of licensed child care providers with state grants, adapted our subsidy program to cover child care provided for school-aged children participating in virtual education, and launched the MI Tri-Share Child Care pilot program, administered by the MWC. We look forward to developing more opportunities to help Michigan women successfully enter or re-enter the workforce with greater access to child care options, higher wages and more workplace flexibilities.”