Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs a bipartisan child care package into law on June 23, 2022.  (Courtesy/Gov. Gretchen Whitmer)
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs a bipartisan child care package into law on June 23, 2022. (Courtesy/Gov. Gretchen Whitmer)

A package of legislation signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer includes new laws that increase capacity for at-home child care providers, and cut through red tape to bolster child care access statewide.

Need to Know

  • Nearly half of Michigan families live in a child care desert. 
  • Recent legislation aims to cut bureaucratic “red tape” for at-home child care providers. 
  • The Department of Education will be required to provide technical support for providers. 

MICHIGAN—A package of bipartisan legislation signed last week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer aims to increase parents’ access to child care and cut through some of the red tape that providers have been forced to navigate. Meanwhile, nearly half of all Michigan families live in a child care desert.

“Child care is the silent driver of Michigan’s economy, and we are focused on breaking down barriers and expanding access to safe, quality child care for families,” said Emily Laidlaw, Child Care Licensing Bureau director for the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. 

The package of bills signed by Whitmer includes new laws that increase the number of children that at-home child care providers can take on, as well as require the state Department of Education to provide support networks to child care providers in every region of the state.

“Signing these bills into law is a win for young and working families across Michigan,” said State Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton), a sponsor of one of the bipartisan bills. “Increasing accessibility and affordability of child care helps millions of Michiganders, especially working mothers who have been unable to return to the workforce following the pandemic. The bills will not only benefit working families but our economy also. I’m thrilled to continue the work that lies ahead to ensure every Michigander has access to the quality child care they need.”

During the pandemic, child care options dwindled. From 2019 to July 2020, the number of child care spaces in Michigan decreased by nearly 80%—down from more than 330,000 facilities to less than 20,000 last summer. Family child care spaces saw similar declines from more than 35,000 facilities tracked in 2019, according to data published by Child Care Aware of America

There has been a bounceback—there are now 7,915 child care programs in Michigan, reports the Early Childhood Investment Corporation. But for many Michiganders, access has been a struggle. The Center of American Progress found that 44% of residents live in a child care desert.

“I hear regularly from constituents that are struggling to find child care that meets their needs. As a mom, I know these challenges all too well.  I’m proud of the work the Legislature has done to expand access and make quality child care more affordable for families,” said Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi), a sponsor of one of the bills. “This bill package is another step in the right direction for Michigan kids and families. My bill focused on providing more support for home-based child care businesses. These programs are integral to our communities, and they deserve professional development and resources that are tailored for their individual and regional needs.”

The legislation comes about one month after Whitmer’s announcement that she planned to spend $100 million in federal COVID-19 relief to open or expand 1,000 child care programs by 2024. 

Here is a complete list of all of the bills in the package: 

  • HB 5041, sponsored by Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann), allows home-based child care providers with a successful record to care for up to seven children instead of six. The bill also upped the cap on group homes, which can now house 14 kids instead of 12. 
  • HB 5042, sponsored by Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores), amends the disclosure requirements for child care center applicants in order to prevent centers from attempting to skirt around regulations. 
  • HB 5043, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi), establishes new child care networks to help provide technical assistance and support for home-based child care providers. 
  • HB 5044, sponsored by Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton), requires the state Department of Education to establish Family Child Care Networks in every region of the state.
  • HB 5045, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Wakeman (R-Frankenmuth), expands the scope of information that state regulators must compile, and makes public any investigations conducted in the last three years for child care centers, family and group homes.
  • HB 5046, sponsored by Rep. Gregory Markkanen (R-Hancock), gives child care providers at least 90 days to comply with new health and safety rules. 
  • HB 5047, sponsored by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland), allows child care providers to share their health and safety records with parents online.
  • HB 5048, sponsored by Rep. John Roth (R-Traverse City), gives child care providers a path to operate in multi-use buildings.