Gender Equity, Women’s Leadership, and the Caring Economy

This past year, 25 Michigan United women came together to create our Women’s Leadership and Gender Equity team. Our current campaign is to increase access to affordable, quality childcare for families in Michigan. Investment by the state of Michigan in high-quality child care through the Child Development and Care program has the potential to boost our state economy and provide critical early learning opportunities for young children during their first years of life.

Access to safe, high-quality child care reduces the need for parents to miss work and it has also been shown to decrease employee turnover. On the other hand, less investment in child care makes it harder for working parents to find reliable care, which makes it harder for them to find stable work and provide for their families.

Unfortunately, funding for subsidized child care has drastically decreased in Michigan. According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, total child care spending fell from $479 million in 2005 to just $136 million in 2014—a reduction of over 70%.

We are calling on our state legislature to implement the following policy changes:

  • An increase in the threshold to access the Child Development and Care program, from 120% to 185% of the poverty line, which is the same threshold as Medicaid eligibility. We think the threshold should be even higher, but this would be a significant move in the right direction.
  • Increased funding in the state budget so that with the threshold increase, more families also have access to the subsidies.
  • Remove the cap on hours for reimbursable child care. While the cap has recently increased to 90 hours for every two weeks, we know that many low-income families have work schedules that exceed 45 hours per week. There is also the need to factor in the time it takes for parents to travel from work to their child care facilities. We believe that Michigan should eliminate a cap on reimbursable hours. The current system already screens for whether the parents are at work or in approved training or educational programs during those hours. We should move toward being able to fully support working families who qualify for this assistance.

The Gender Equity team has also started to explore building a campaign around long-term, elder care. We believe families should have access to care choices that allow their family members to age with dignity in their homes, and have the support of quality, affordable home caregivers. We are exploring what Michigan could be doing to ensure there are private/public programs that will support our elders and their families, and enable quality care.

We also support the effort to secure a dignified wage for homecare and childcare workers. We believe the Elder Boom is an opportunity to create quality jobs with robust training programs, and investment in a public/private system by the state of Michigan will allow for families to have affordable, quality choices.