Says access to care is critical to attracting and retaining talent
NORTHERN MI – The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance joined legislative leaders and the governor to unveil a package of childcare initiatives inside the Michigan State Capitol. Childcare is one of the Alliance’s top policy priorities because of its impact on the region’s availability of talent. The Alliance represents 16 chambers and economic development organizations and over 7,000 member businesses from across northern Michigan.
“There is a clear business case and sense of urgency in addressing access to quality childcare,” said Stacie Bytwork, the chairperson of the Alliance and president and CEO of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses continually cite the availability of quality childcare as a barrier for their employees. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, and we applaud our decision-makers for listening to our region’s business community.”
The announcement included a package of eight bills addressing both regulatory reform and supply building to support providers and increase their capacity and strength. Many of the proposals are the product of a work group consisting of legislators, child-care providers, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, and leadership from the Alliance. Legislation includes giving providers time to comply with new health and safety rules by allowing a 90-day grace period for implementation; ensuring documentation for each provider is easily accessible for three years, rather than varying retention periods; helping expand and support family childcare provider supports by creating Family Child Care Networks; and more.
The House bill sponsored by State representative John Roth helps providers co-locate where families live and work by giving childcare providers a safe path to locate in multi-use buildings. This legislation is inspired by the Commongrounds development in Traverse City, where efforts to locate childcare near families encountered hurdles.
“Commongrounds is excited to see the introduction of a bill that simultaneously ensures childcare is provided in a safe environment that protects children, while also reducing unnecessary barriers to locating childcare in the neighborhoods where parents work and live,” said Kate Redman, Commongrounds Project Director. “This change is essential to help communities and projects like ours take action to invest in long-term childcare solutions that meet the urgent needs of their communities.”
The Alliance has partnered with the Great Start Collaborative of Traverse Bay to ensure policy solutions meet the needs of northern Michigan and have the intended effect of increasing access to quality childcare.
“Childcare is a critical part of our economy, and in short supply in many communities,” said Mary Manner, coordinator of the Great Start Collaborative of Traverse Bay. “With greater co-location of childcare facilities in multi-use buildings, we envision thriving communities where childcare is so well integrated into our downtowns, suburban office parks, and industrial complexes, and such an everyday part of life, that we won’t remember a time when we struggled to find care for our babies.”
About the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance:
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is a coalition of chambers and economic development organizations including the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, Benzie County Chamber of Commerce, Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce, Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce, Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Traverse Connect, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Superior Community Partnership, Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce, Elk Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce, Sault Area Chamber of Commerce, & Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Alliance exists to advocate for rural northern Michigan and move forward rural-centric business policy.