PPA’s newly published report, “Geographic Equity in Michigan Child Care Subsidy Utilization,” examines the impact of the pandemic on access to child care by region of the state.

To minimize the economic impacts of the pandemic, Michigan used federal funding to aid families and providers who participate in Michigan’s child care subsidy program, Child Development and Care (CDC). The State changed program policies temporarily to allow providers to bill for absent children and school-aged children, extended the redetermination period (i.e., the time parents have to reapply for the subsidy), and provided operational grants to licensed providers. The PPA researchers found that:

  • Participation in the child care subsidy program declined across the state in 2020.
  • First-time CDC participants were no more likely to stop using the subsidy in the first half of 2020 than in previous years.
  • Fluctuations in family usage of the subsidy were very consistent across different parts of the state.
  • There is no clear regional trend in access to child care.

“One of the key takeaways from the report is that geographic inequalities in access to child care and use of the subsidy program are intensely localized; it’s not just a rural/urban phenomenon,” said Senior Methodologist, Nathan Burroughs, “You can have neighboring counties that seem very similar to each other with very different access to care.”

In conducting this geographic analysis, PPA looked at the impact of the pandemic on access to child care in Michigan in the four Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) service regions (see map). The pandemic affected access to child care in each region differently. For example, in 2020, Region 1 saw smaller declines in use of the subsidy compared with the rest of the state. Overall (2020-2021), the largest declines in child care subsidy participation occurred in Region 4 (29.5%) and the smallest in Region 3 (16.3%).

“The other, and less surprising, key finding is that the pandemic had a major impact, reducing the availability of child care in every region of the state. The impacts weren’t concentrated in just a few regions or counties, however,” said Dr. Burroughs.

This report is part of an ongoing research partnership involving PPA; the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start; and the MDHHS under a grant from the Administration for Children and Families.

Read more detailed results, including county-level data, here, or contact Dr. Burroughs at nburroughs@publicpolicy.com for further information.