Workforce

Michigan tries a method of easing more parents back into the labor pool

The state is broadening a program that aims to make child care accessible by dividing the cost between employees, employers and the state.
kids at day care
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Michigan is expanding a pilot program aimed at resolving one of the societal issues that has thinned the labor pool for foodservice operators and other employers, particularly during the pandemic: a lack of viable child-care options.

The state is working with the private sector to provide what participants say is high-quality care at a price affordable  to working families. Cost has always been the big hurdle to offering that caliber of care. Under the MI Tri-Share Child Care Pilot Program, the expense is equally shared by the worker, the employer community and the state, which has earmarked $2.5 million in its fiscal 2022 budget for the initiative.

At present, participation is limited to employees who qualify for the state's Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed aid program, known as ALICE.

The Tri-Share Program was launched in March 2021 on a limited scale. The expansion announced Tuesday will expand the experiment to seven more “hubs,” which extends the reach to 52 counties and the city of Detroit.

When the pandemic forced schools to close, employers learned that that it was difficult to pull parents back to their jobs because they needed to care for their children throughout the day.

McDonald’s and a few other major restaurant chains have been experimenting with various ways of providing workers with health care. A handful of independent restaurants have also provided that benefit in hopes of drawing more potential recruits.

"The pandemic has only exacerbated the reality that without affordable child care, less parents can fully participate in the workforce," Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said in a statement. "As we continue down the path of building a new, better economy for Michiganders, we must find ways to decrease the costs that put stress on family budgets, like child care." 

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