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Invest in child care aid smartly

It excited us to learn that the state would set aside $1.4 billion in federal money over the next two years to invest in child care startups.

It troubled us to learn just how hard it could be for child care providers to get that money.

As News staff writer Barbara Woodham reported recently, the state approved just $750 in aid for the owners of Northeast Michigan’s newest child care center, Great Lakes Child Care Center — and the center hadn’t received that money as of the printing of Woodham’s story last week.

But Northeast Michigan badly needs child care facilities. We have just three day care centers (not counting preschools) that can handle 20 or more kids, and just a handful of centers that can handle up to 20 kids, Woodham reported.

The Michigan League for Public Policy calls much of Northeast Michigan a “child care desert”.

What’s more frustrating, Mariah Finch, owner of the new Great Lakes Child Care Center, said she doesn’t know why she didn’t qualify for more help.

“How does the state pick and choose where the money goes?” she asked.

We’d like more information on that, too.

A lack of child care is more than frustrating for parents who can’t find someone to watch their kids, and it matters to all of us.

When a parent can’t find child care, he or she might not be able to work. And that contributes to the staffing shortage affecting all of us, which holds back our economy.

We urge the state to invest that $1.4 billion smartly, putting the most money where it could do the most good.

And Northeast Michigan is obviously in need.

The state also needs to promote the available money to make sure anyone who’s thinking about starting a child care center knows help is available.

(THE ALPENA NEWS)

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