Over the past year, Lansing and Washington together assaulted Michigan’s most powerful barriers to government overreach: intact families and local control of child care.
This is the story of government-sponsored addiction to the most powerful drug available: “free” money.
Big Picture: Child Care and the 2024 Presidential Election
Last week Politico explained how expanded child care subsidies are key to President Biden’s reelection.
Faced with punishing US debt, inflation and out-of-control spending, Congress is leveraging budget cuts. Among other concessions, the Biden administration dropped the expanded subsidies.
However, to Democrat incumbents controlling all of Lansing and two-thirds of Washington, DC, voter discontent spells election disaster.
They believe the 2024 Elections will be fought on the economy. Jobs, income, spending power – they all factor into voter satisfaction.
To Democrats, expanded child care subsidies sustain their narrative of a strong economy. More mothers working, higher child care wages, and child care business staying open means higher income levels and better job reports – or so the reasoning goes.
So why did the Biden administration drop expanded subsidies from budget negotiations this summer?
That’s where the Michigan ground game comes into play.
Michigan child care subsidies
In 2022, the State of Michigan dramatically increased child care subsidies.
Funds from the CDC (yes, that CDC!) flowed through Michigan’s legislature to the Department of Education.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) urged Child Care businesses to recruit more families to sign up.
Be a Part of the Solution – Expanded Child Care Subsidy
As child care providers, we know that you are committed to helping the families in our community. That is why it is essential that we share the impact the historic investments Michigan has made to support Michigan’s young children and families. More families than ever are eligible to receive assistance to pay for child care, but they may not be aware. Continue to help families by letting them know they could now be eligible for support. This expansion also better supports providers who want to participate in the child care subsidy program, including increased reimbursement rates. If you do not currently accept subsidy, from one provider to another, I encourage you to take a look at the new benefits today in the CDC Subsidy Handbook and share the good news.
Income eligibility levels for child care assistance are higher than ever before–currently at 200% of the federal poverty level, and provider reimbursement rates have also been increased. To assist families in finding out if they are eligible for Child Care Subsidy, please encourage them to us the Eligibility Calculator.
Family contributions are currently waived through September 30, 2023.
This means that if your child care family is found eligible for child care subsidy and you are a provider who accepts subsidy, the out-of-pocket cost for the family could be reduced until September 30, 2023.
Michigan announced the expanded subsidies on October 12, less than a month before the 2022 Midterm Elections.
Whatever one makes of the timing, the fact remains: expanding eligibility creates constituency.
Michigan now has a larger base of support for the program itself, but there’s more.
According to LARA’s email, peak eligibility by design would last only 3 months. In other words, it was scheduled to expire within a week of Congress’ budget deadline.
- Michigan set up parents and child care businesses for where we are today.
- Congress has the president blocked on this issue.
- Special interests want the people to lobby Congress.
- For the elites, it’s about party politics..
The Funding Cliff
We know it’s a cliff, because everyone from Politico to the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MIAEYC) is calling it a cliff.
In August, advocacy campaigns sprouted up urging citizens to lobby Congress to restore expanded subsidies.
Some parents and child care businesses are concerned.
However, given the context of insane national debt and inflation,
plus heavy layers of regulatory control (CDC, Department of Ed, LARA), it’s safe to say most parent would like to unburden their child care.
The good news is, they probably can.
Navigating Child Care disruption
As necessary and beneficial as it is to put parents and locals back in control, it will still be painful in the short term.
However, they can minimize both short term and longterm market disruptions.
- They deserve to know the history that landed them here.
(Shameless plug: share this article!)
- Get together and get creative. See how many financial and staffing problems you can figure out together.
- Reach out to family and local resources.
Consider all the options, and if you want to avoid cliffs, stay away from too-good-to-be-true state offers of free money.
New and Improved?
Finally, this week LARA announced a New Improved Licensing System. Perhaps an attempt to improve service to this industry it so heavily regulates?