GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new report is sounding the alarm on Michigan’s child care crisis and its impact on the state’s economy.
Chana Edmond-Verley, the CEO of Vibrant Futures in Grand Rapids, said she hears stories of families facing challenges with child care often.
“Parents are saying to us every day that they can’t find child care, they’re on waitlists. Some providers are saying, you know what I’m going to stop taking people for the waitlists because nothing is opening up,” Edmond-Verley said.
She said a lack of staffing at child care centers is one of the most significant factors driving the problem.
“Maybe they couldn’t open 11 to 12 classrooms because they couldn’t find the talent they needed,” Edmond-Verley said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in partnership with the Grand Rapids and Michigan Chambers, plus the Early Childhood Investment Corporation have released the Untapped Potential in Michigan report which highlights the severity of the child care crisis in the state.
“We said Michigan’s unique and we need innovative solutions especially with our workforce looking a little different than other states. We’re heavily manufacturing, we’re heavily healthcare. We need second and third-shift child care,” said Leah Robinson, director of legislative affairs with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
Surveying 501 Michigan parents with children under the age of six, the report estimates there are $2.88 billion dollars in economic loss each year driven by a lack of child care options in the state, including $576 million in lost tax revenue.
Fourteen percent of parents also left a place of employment within the last six months because of child care.
“We cannot put a band-aid on this issue, we have to get down to what is causing this crisis and fix it at its root,” Robinson said.
One of the program’s economic leaders said it is helping the Tri-Share initiative, which was launched in 2020-2021. The program splits child care costs between employees, employers and the state.
It’s currently in 57 counties but Robinson hopes it will expand throughout all of Michigan.
“We are focusing on what does that look like. Does that mean coming back to the table with state government and figuring out what an expansion may look like,” Robinson said.
Edmond-Verley says the prosperity of the child care sector and the community go hand-in-hand.
“I mean, it is powerful and profound what a child care business does for all of us so we can get to work and take care of our own children,” she said.
The Michigan Childcare Coalition says it’s also focused on addressing wages for early childcare providers and finding ways to create and expand child care facilities.