Lack of Child Care Options Limit Michigan Families’ Opportunities, Force Tough Choices

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow says accessing child care as a working mom is stressful. She wants to expand access and government funding for programs.

With over 65% of adults in the U.S. with at least one shot of a vaccine, there has been a lot of talk about returning to work. For many, that means going back to offices to work in person. Yet many parents cannot return to the office because they do not have access to affordable and reliable child care.

“The median wage right now in Michigan for child care workers is $11.61 an hour … they just couldn’t recruit people to come back to these part-time jobs at the traditionally lower wages that they are.”  –Chad Livengood, Crain’s Detroit Business

Child care responsibilities are often disproportionately placed on women, which raises the barrier for many women in their return to work. As many do prepare for a return from virtual work, many women have been forced to question whether they can return to work or not. State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) says the choices for women should not be so limited.

Listen: State. Sen. Mallory McMorrow and Chad Livengood discuss issues around child care.


State Sen. Mallory McMorrow represents Michigan’s 13th state Senate District. She authored a piece in Crain’s Detroit Business with her husband, Ray Wert, titled “Raising kids or having a career doesn’t have to be a binary choice for women. Here’s how to change that.” McMorrow says being a working mom is exciting and thrilling but also exhausting because of child care challenges. “We were very cognizant of the fact that we have flexibility and resources that most people don’t. And it was still just an incredibly stressful challenge and it got down to the day before I was set to come back to Lansing, we didn’t have child care figured out yet.” 

McMorrow points out that many child care providers operate traditional workday hours, despite many jobs not having flexible schedules themselves. “I think we need to have government-backed guaranteed child care. Whether that is funding that you can take to a private child care provider or pay for a nanny or a babysitter … most daycare centers have strict traditional work hours and if you are late picking your child up some charge by the minute for that,” she says.

Chad Livengood is a senior editor at Crain’s Detroit Business. He recently wrote the article “School care out of balance in Ann Arbor,”  which is about Ann Arbor Public Schools abruptly canceling both their before-school and after-school care programs. “It’s really seen as essential for families with two working parents or if you’re a single parent it is seen as really, really essential,” he says. 

Livengood says it was initially put on pause because of COVID-19 and worries about having children in crowded spaces. But then it was completely canceled because of the low wages provided to child care workers. “The median income the median wage right now in Michigan for childcare workers is $11.61 an hour … [Ann Arbor] just couldn’t recruit people to come back to these part-time jobs at the traditionally lower wages that they are.” 

Web story written by Dan Netter

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