State Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) introduced House Bill 4662 this week to assist working families in Michigan with the cost of childcare. This legislation would establish a childcare and dependent care tax credit for families based on gross annual income, providing the highest credit to families making less than $25,000 a year.
According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, the average annual cost of childcare for a parent with two children in a childcare center in Michigan is approximately $18,600. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the economic challenges facing working families, with recent studies finding childcare costs have increased by 61% in Michigan over the past year.
“As our state’s economy struggles to bounce back from the ongoing public health crisis, we can’t afford to let the cost of childcare hold people back from achieving their financial, educational or professional goals,” said Anthony. “When the average woman makes 82 cents on the dollar—and women of color earn even less—these same families often have fewer funds and resources to devote to necessities like childcare in the first place. We must be doing everything in our power as a state to ensure our hardworking parents have the opportunity to not only survive, but thrive, and this bill would help accomplish just that.”
The need for quality, affordable childcare can be even greater in ‘childcare deserts,’ a term used by researchers to describe areas with a low supply of childcare facilities due to a concentration of lower incomes and disinvestment, often due to racial segregation or geographic isolation. It’s estimated that 44% of Michiganders currently live in childcare deserts. In Ingham County, there are roughly 1.7 children for each available childcare slot, which leads to childcare providers charging higher parent fees to cover the demand, especially in wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.