What it takes to be a child care provider

(August 18, 2021) Being a child care provider and/or owning a child care business takes a lot of work, but is so valuable to our families and communities. There are several things that are necessary to become a child care provider that may not immediately come to mind. Owning and operating a child care business is similar to running a small business, yet there are additional requirements when caring for children in your home or in a center:

  • Licensed child care is regulated. Center-based and in-home child care businesses are regulated by LARA Child Care Licensing Bureau.
  • Licensed child care is inspected. Licensing consultants assess compliance with licensing rules including inspection and approval of heating and water system, radon testing, environmental health inspection, required documentation, learning spaces, outdoor space, ratios, and more.
  • Background clearance/fingerprinting is required. All child care workers must undergo a background check and fingerprinting to care for children in their home or at a center.
  • Professional development and training are required annually. Child care workers are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid, have verification of training in early learning and child development, prevention and control of infectious diseases, safe sleep practices, reporting child abuse and neglect, prevention of shaken baby syndrome, and more.
  • Child care businesses (center and home-based) pay taxes.
  • More than half of child care businesses (center and home-based) participate in the Quality Rating Improvement System in Michigan.

Child care is not just a place where children go when their families work. It is a crucial learning environment for children, the country’s next generation of community members and workers. Child care providers must be well-versed in child development skills and promote positive development, with a focus on infants and toddlers.

Child care professionals make all other work possible and should be treated as the foundation that they are. Ensuring that the child care workforce is well-compensated, economically stable, well-versed in child development skills, diverse, and culturally competent has positive impacts for children and families too. Parents can go back to work knowing that their children are in a safe and supportive environment.

FACTS about Michigan Child Care Providers:

  • There are 28,360 Michigan residents in the early childhood teaching workforce.

  • In Kent County, there are 613 existing licensed child care centers and homes.

  • The workforce is comprised mainly of women, more than 40 percent of whom are women of color.

REALITY: Michigan Child Care Providers are Essential and Valuable Workers, Yet…

  • The median child care worker wage: $11.13 compared to Preschool teacher: $14.89, Kindergarten teacher: $34.98, Elementary teacher: $38.09
  • Child care workers’ median wage is only about 57% of the Michigan state median.
  • Nationally, 53% of the child care workforce receives public assistance benefits, compared to 21% of the U.S. workforce as a whole.
  • Nationally, fewer than 24.2% of child care workers are policy holders for employer-sponsored health insurance, compared to 50.4% of workers overall.
  • Michigan providers with a bachelor’s degree are paid 21.5% less than their colleagues in the K-8 system.
  • 18.9% of Michigan child care providers live below the poverty line, compared to 10.8% of all workers and 2.6% of K-8 teachers.
  • An average Michigan child care worker would spend 78.6% of their income to put two of their own children in center-based care.

OPPORTUNITY: Implementing affordable, high-quality child care for Michigan child care providers would mean…

  • Establishing a salary and benefits schedule and parity with K-8 teachers, including but not limited to health insurance, paid sick time, paid family and medical leave, paid time for professional development, improved working conditions, student loan forgiveness, and retirement contributions.

  • Aligning child care worker wages with kindergarten teacher wages, Michigan child care workers would see their average hourly earnings rise from $11.13 to $34.98, a 214% increase.

  • A values-based budget for early care and education would help employ between 144,000 - 195,000 Michigan providers/teachers at fair wages.

Sources: Zero to Three Infant-Toddler Child Care Fact Sheet, National Women's Law Center, Michigan Fact Sheet

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