Seemingly overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the child care industry. Stay-at-home orders meant that all but essential workers were staying home and their children were out of school and child care. There was massive job loss, which was reflected in Michigan’s data, and showed a steep drop in the number of child care providers and children participating in the child care assistance program in the State. The State of Michigan enacted policy changes designed to support families and providers during the pandemic—with a focus on child care access, quality, continuity, equity, and subsidy program retention.

New PPA research on the impact of COVID-19 and the policy changes found that:

  • Policy changes appear to have stabilized the reduction in child care access associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The outcomes of the policy changes were the same regardless of racial, ethnic, or income group.
  • Continued financial support of child care providers was beneficial and is still needed.
  • All policy changes were viewed positively, and no one policy rose to the top as being the most important to stakeholders.

For the full results, see the Impact of COVID-19 on Child Care in Michigan brief.

“The state and national government took dramatic action early in the pandemic to stabilize the child care market,” said Nathan Burroughs, Senior Research Associate at Public Policy Associates, Inc. (PPA). “Our research suggests that the direct aid to child care providers made a real difference. In the future, PPA will build on this work to examine the long-term impacts of these policies, and to better understand the long-term changes in access to care for low-income families.”

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, PPA; the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start; and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services were able to study the impacts of these policy changes.

The findings triangulate data from multiple data sources. For a detailed view of what was learned from each source, see the following briefs from 2021:

Provider Perspective

Parent Perspective

Caseworker Perspective

Data on Child Care Quality

Administrative Data

This study is part of a larger research project that began in 2020 and will continue through March 2023.

For more information on this project and PPA’s other work in child care policy, contact Colleen Graber at