44% of Michigan residents live in child care deserts
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Finding quality child care can be next to impossible for some parents, with more than 600 childcare providers lost in Michigan alone during the pandemic, according to a recent report.
The report highlights the alarming areas known as “child care deserts,” where there are at least three times as many children as licensed childcare providers.
Enrolling your child in early development care, such as preschool, can set them up for a better life. However, the problem lies in finding a facility that doesn’t have an unrealistic waitlist. Dana Johnson, the director of Peoples Church Preschool, said that they accommodate 130 children at a time, but the number of families on the waiting list exceeds the number of families in the program.
Johnson said some families need to start thinking about child care even before their child is born.
“It’s never too soon,” Johnson said. “Even families that get on a waiting list, when they find out they are expecting, might not be able to get into that school until that child is three years old.”
A recent report by the Council for a Strong America revealed that in Michigan, 44% of residents live in an area where there are at least three times as many children as licensed childcare slots available. The lack of childcare providers is a significant factor contributing to this issue.
Milton Scales, a member of Invest in Kids, called for support to uplift the workers who provide early education to children. Johnson said the average wage for early childcare providers with a degree is about $26,000 per year, while a kindergarten teacher’s average salary is roughly $60,000 per year.
“Help us uplift the workers who are working to provide early education to our children,” said Scales. “We have to do something to address this issue.”
Advocacy groups argue that the cost of child care is already too high for many parents. They hope lawmakers can provide support to increase the number of licensed providers without raising tuition rates.
According to the director of Peoples Church Preschool, parents spend an average of $13,000 for infant care, just $1,000 less than the average cost of in-state college tuition.
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