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Childcare providers detail challenges in roundtable with Gilchrist


Childcare providers detail challenges in roundtable with Gilchrist

Mar 31, 2023 | 10:47 am ET
By Ken Coleman
Childcare providers detail challenges in roundtable with Gilchrist
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist with a student in Detroit on March 30, 2023 | Ken Coleman

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist on Thursday read to young children and heard from their parents, guardians and other caregivers during a visit to Northwest Activities Center in Detroit. 

There, adults shared their passion for providing education and care for children. They also told Gilchrist about the challenges that they face, which includes low pay for childcare workers, difficulty in recruiting childcare staff, and out of school affordability.  

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“You want to invest in a four-year program and then get your master’s [degree] but when you come out, what does that look like for you, income-wise. Is it sustainable to carry yourself?  said Michelle Thomas, a Detroit early childcare provider. “I don’t see where young people are going to invest in their education and take that route if they are not really getting that sustainable wage.” 

Gilchrist was joined by Adrian Monge, director of the Office of Early Learning.

A father of three young children, Gilchrist noted the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer administration has offered increases in the education budget, which includes in-class resources, mental health, campus safety, school infrastructure, and tutoring. She also proposed in her Fiscal Year 2024 budget universal preschool for all Michigan 4-year-olds. 

“We want our brightest and best to see this as a pursuit,” said Gilchrist about administration efforts to provide more education resources, including pay. 

In her first budget proposal to the new Democratic-controlled Legislature, Whitmer also included more spending for childcare, birth control, school meals and more. The next budget year starts Oct. 1. Lawmakers are supposed to pass a budget by July 31, although there is no penalty if they fail to meet that deadline.

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Whitmer administration awarded $368 million in grants to childcare programs across the state. Through grant funding, the administration provided resources to more than 5,500 childcare programs and provided nearly 38,000 workers with $1,000 bonuses for full-time staff.