MARESA new hub in child care program
MARQUETTE — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday announced the MI Tri-Share Child Care pilot program expansion to seven new facilitator hubs in pilot regions across Michigan, including the Marquette-Alger Educational Regional Service Agency.
The hubs, according to the governor’s office, will expand access to nearly all of Michigan. In last week’s budget recommendations, Whitmer included $2.5 million to continue support for the program, which increases access to high-quality and affordable child care through a collaboration that leverages both state and business support.
This public-private partnership works to increase access to high-quality, affordable child care for working families while helping retain and attract talent, the governor’s office said. Tri-Share now covers 52 counties in Michigan plus the city of Detroit.
“Expanding access to high-quality, affordable child care will help every kid succeed from day one and help parents get back to work knowing that their kids are safe and cared for,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We must continue investing in programs like Tri-Share that put Michiganders first and help us grow our economy.”
Each facilitator hub serves as an intermediary between employers, families and child care providers, and provides overall program management, the governor’s office said.
The new facilitator hubs include:
≤ MARESA, which serves all 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula;
≤ St. Clair RESA, serving St. Clair County;
≤ Southwest Child Care Resources, serving Kalamazoo County;
≤ Vibrant Futures, serving Kent County;
≤ Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, serving Shiawassee County
≤ Child Care Network, serving Washtenaw County;
≤ Otsego County Economic Alliance, Inc., serving Otsego, Crawford, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Roscommon and Oscoda counties.
“The pandemic has only exacerbated the reality that without affordable child care, (fewer) parents can fully participate in the work force,” said Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, in a news release. “As we continue down the path of building a new, better economy for Michiganders, we must find ways to decrease the costs that put stress on family budgets, like child care.”
Through Tri-Share, the cost of child care is shared equally by eligible employees, their employers and the state of Michigan, with coordination being provided regionally by a facilitator hub.
Since its launch in March, the Tri-Share program has gained tremendous momentum, garnering significant interest and a recent $800,000 investment by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help fund further expansion, the governor’s office said.
“Families living in rural areas face unique child care challenges,” said Lyndsay Carey, director of Early Childhood Education at MARESA, in a statement. “Tri-Share is a program that helps families, children and employers alike. We’re excited to welcome it to the Upper Peninsula where even more Michiganders can take advantage.”
Jenna Smith, major of the city of Marquette, also commented on the project.
“As a mother of two young children, ages 5 and 2, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate child care costs and availability in our rural area,” Smith said in a statement. “The expansion of the Tri-Share program to the U.P. is a win worth celebrating. I’d like to offer a sincere thank you to all involved.”