Insights from Michigan’s Cross-Department Coordination for the Child Development and Care Program, 2019-2023

Across the years 2019 to 2022—which included the COVID-19 pandemic—a federally funded research partnership between Public Policy Associates (PPA) and two State agencies examined the effects of policy changes on child care access. This brief shares the learning from State eligibility specialists (caseworkers) and State agency administrator teams.

Centered on the state’s Child Development and Care (CDC) assistance program, the study examined 17 policy changes in total spanning implementation dates from July 2015 to July 2022. External economic influences and a State interest in continuous program improvement led to the changes. Overall, the aim of the policies was to increase child care access through increased affordability and supply.

The Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Achievement, and Potential (MiLEAP) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) both have roles in the implementation of the child care assistance program. The Child Development and Care unit at MiLEAP (formerly housed in the Michigan Department of Education) sets policy for the program, controls the funding, and manages provider payment. Eligibility specialists (caseworkers) at MDHHS county offices review applications and make approvals or denials of benefits. MDHHS also communicates approved hours and family contribution (co-payment) requirements to families.

To understand the two agencies’ degree of coordination around policy implementation, we developed a Policy Coordination Self-Assessment tool that State partner teams completed annually. The tool’s content and scoring structure remained the same year to year except for the policies of focus.

We surveyed the eligibility specialists annually with the assistance of the MDHHS central office, with some variation in questions depending on the focal policies. The purpose of the survey was to gain their perspectives on how policies affected program processes and client families. Several of the program policies Michigan changed affected the eligibility determination process and required programming modifications to the Bridges benefits database.

Read more of this important research in the issue brief available below.

Similar Projects

View Other Similar Projects
A person holding a pen