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State Rep. Jack O’Malley (center) provides testimony on a bipartisan plan establishing a more effective, higher-quality child-care system for Michigan families on Tuesday, Sept. 21 before the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee. O’Malley’s proposal, HB 5041, increases the number of children that an in-home care provider can receive if it meets certain criteria – expanding available spots for families.

Rep. O’Malley says time is now for better child-care system in testimony on landmark reforms
RELEASE|September 21, 2021
Contact: Jack O'Malley

State Rep. Jack O’Malley today testified on his plan establishing a more effective, higher-quality child-care system for Michigan families – outlining a clear need for change.

Bipartisan legislation before the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee continues to prioritize care families need and deserve, O’Malley said, while ensuring children are safe in a reformed system. The plan provides much-needed flexibility to better support providers who depend on adequate resources to deliver reliable care.

“These services are a strain on families and they are demanding a better approach,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann. “I talk to many hard-working people throughout northern Michigan who are loud and clear on child care taking up too much of their budgets. It puts them in a position where they have to make difficult choices regarding their futures and careers.

“They shouldn’t be forced into these types of decisions. We need a system that is practical and works for them.”

Common-sense regulatory reforms in the legislative package include measures such as a safe path for providers to locate in multi-use buildings to expand access to where families live and work, allowing providers to share certain health and safety records online to help parents access information, enhanced reporting requirements and more concise regulation to let high-quality providers thrive while bad actors are held accountable.

O’Malley’s proposal, HB 5041, increases the number of children that an in-home care provider can receive if it meets certain criteria – expanding available spots for families.

Lawmakers, caregivers and members of Gov. Whitmer’s administration formulated a workgroup at the start of the 2021-22 legislative term to improve the state’s child-care system. The workgroup devoted efforts to reforms through legislation, administrative adjustments and the appropriations process. In June, O’Malley was joined by the governor, other House legislators and child-care industry and regional business leaders from across the state to announce the new measures.

“This has been a long road and we have had negotiation and input involving many different parties,” O’Malley said. “Certainly there have been disappointments in the past where needed changes were put on the back burner for families who need a better system. We now have bipartisan solutions and needed compromises. There’s a real eagerness to get this done for people who are in dire need of these services. It’s time for a better way forward.”

A lack of access to child-care services has become a concerning barrier for working parents in Michigan, particularly for mothers who are disproportionately forced to make career sacrifices in order to provide reliable care for children.

State research has shown that 75 percent of children in Michigan live in areas with limited access to child care. In addition, 10 Michigan counties do not currently have licensed slots at centers that serve children younger than 30 months.

The legislative package, House Bills 5041-48, remains under consideration in the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee.

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