Parents: Free daycare program in Genesee Co. isn’t free - WNEM TV 5

Parents: Free daycare program in Genesee Co. isn’t free

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

As part of the recovery process emerging from the ongoing water crisis, the state developed a program offering free daycare for young children exposed to lead-tainted water.

But as some parents are finding out the hard way, “free” might not always be just that.

That’s what one couple encountered, saying none of the daycare facilities they contacted had even heard of the free state program.

“The state advertises it as being free and our experience in trying to figure this program out, is that free is not necessarily free,” said Page Brousseau, the father.

Page and Amanda Brousseau are new parents. Their daughter Ava is 2-years old.

They both work full-time and were looking for a daycare. They decided to enroll their daughter through the child development and care program created by the Michigan Department of Education.

On the department’s website, it states if you live in the area and have a child under the age of 4 who was born during the Flint Water Crisis,  then you’re eligible for free childcare.

You can imagine the couple's surprise when they went to a local daycare and were told to pay up.

“Local daycare facilities were saying it wasn’t," Page Brousseau said. “Most of them were not familiar with this particular problem involving Flint water.”

So the couple immediately checked with their caseworker to figure out what was going on and were told the program should have covered all the costs.

But officials with the Department of Education told them they were misinterpreting the definition of the word “free."

“It’s very frustrating. It’s hard enough to ask for help, but then when you’re told no, it was devastating,” said Amanda Brousseau, the mother.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said parents must provide information about the child care provider to their DHHS caseworker to receive the free program. It won't be free if the provider charges a rate higher than the state's reimbursement rate.

Meanwhile, the Brousseaus said they are just trying to find the right daycare for their daughter and are hoping the state will eventually follow through on its promises.

“We are hoping very soon that she will be able to go and experience the environment that she wants to learn and be with other kids and meet new people," Amanda Brousseau said.

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