Ann Arbor SPARK Launches Coalition to Address Child Care Challenges in Livingston and Washtenaw Counties
In May, Ann Arbor SPARK launched the Livingston and Washtenaw Counties Child Care Coalition. This effort brings together local child care providers, families, policymakers, and businesses to address the issue of child care from an economic development perspective. The coalition will work together to develop and implement a regional action plan over the next 12 months.
“Accessing affordable and high-quality child care has become one of the most prevalent challenges facing Livingston and Washtenaw County families,” said Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK. “The hope is that by bringing people who are not usually in the room into this conversation that affects all of us, we can start identifying realistic steps we can take to improve the state of local child care.”
Despite high prices for child care – the average monthly cost in Livingston and Washtenaw County is $904 – childcare providers struggle to survive as businesses, and childcare employees make extremely low wages. This also negatively impacts local businesses seeking employees, as many parents have made the decision to leave the workforce due to the costs and logistical challenges of child care.
“In our current system, everyone is struggling. Child care providers struggle with keeping their business running, child care workers with making ends meet, and families with finding affordable child care that meets their needs,” said Annette Sobocinski, Director of the Child Care Network. “It is going to take multiple sectors coming together to find workable solutions for everyone.”
The coalition, funded by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, includes several area child care providers, families currently accessing child care, and representatives from Washtenaw County Government, Trinity Health, the Ann Arbor Community Foundation, Michigan Works! Southeast, and the Livingston and Washtenaw Great Start Readiness Programs. Ann Arbor SPARK is partnering with Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a women-owned nonpartisan policy research firm, to support this work. PSC will be distributing community surveys and hosting additional interviews and focus groups. Stay current on project activities, including opportunities to share your experiences with child care, by visiting annarborusa.org/childcare.