As the year winds down, please join us in thanking members of the Think Babies Michigan coalition and ECIC’s other parent leaders, providers, state agency and advocacy partners, for their passion and commitment to advocating for Michigan’s youngest children and their families. Thanks to their many contributions, there have been several early childhood policy wins in Michigan this year, including:
- Creation of the new Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP), which will oversee several programs formerly in the Michigan Department of Education, including the Office of Great Start.
- Commitment from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services to update its publicly available Green Book of Key Program Statistics to disaggregate service recipient data for children under the age of five by race/ethnicity and child age starting in March 2024, facilitating the equitable distribution of resources.
- Maintenance of COVID-era child care subsidy program improvements that raised the family income threshold to 200% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) and stabilized child care businesses by basing subsidy reimbursement on child enrollment rather than attendance.
- Allocation of $36 million to implement an Infant Toddler Quality Grant Pilot Program to stabilize and expand the availability of high quality, subsidized infant/toddler care.
- Significant increases in the FY24 budget for the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), moving Michigan closer to the Governor’s goal of having voluntary universal preschool for 4-year-olds in place by 2027.
- Continuation of $3 million of funding for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) to help child care providers appropriately respond to children’s acute behavioral health needs.
- $1.1 million in increased School Aid Funds (SAF) in the state FY24 budget to expand Early On services for children birth to 3 years old with developmental delays or disabilities;
- $2 million in increased SAF for voluntary home visiting services focused on helping families improve their school readiness.
- Expansion of post-partum Medicaid coverage from 90 days to 1 year following delivery.
- Medicaid coverage for doula services for care provided to birth parents in community-based, prenatal, labor, and birth and postpartum settings.
- FY24 budget funding for Medicaid reimbursement of CenteringPregnancy©, an evidence-based model of prenatal group care
- FY24 budget funding to waive the 5-year waiting period for legally residing child and pregnant immigrants to access Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; and HB 4740, which would codify this change in state law, voted favorably out of committee.
- Favorable passage of a maternal and infant bill package (House Bills 5167-5173) out of committee that includes opportunities for private insurance and Medicaid coverage of blood pressure monitors for individuals who are pregnant or within the postpartum period; and for mental health screenings to take place in postpartum follow up and pediatric settings when clinically appropriate.
- Introduction of Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) bills in both Michigan houses.
Looking Ahead to 2024
As we look ahead to 2024, here are some pending Michigan early childhood policies to watch:
- Elimination of the child support enforcement cooperation requirement for subsidized child care. Think Babies Michigan and other advocates have asked the new MiLEAP department leadership to follow the lead of other states and remove this policy barrier to low-income families accessing needed child care subsidies.
- Paid Family & Medical leave. Michigan legislators have yet to schedule PFML bills for hearing in either house, despite the widespread popularity of this policy with most voters. National polls indicate that 75-80% of Americans support paid family and medical leave, including the vast majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.
- The package of maternal and child health bills (House Bills 5167- 5173) that passed favorably out the Health Policy Committee this year awaits a vote by the full House and further legislative action in 2024.
- Revision of the Michigan Early On Coalition. With support from the Early On Foundation, Think Babies Michigan will be reconstituting the Early On Coalition early in the new year. The Coalition will include advocacy partners, representatives or the Early On provider community and parents to advocate for both increased state funding for Early On based and policy changes to ensure equitable access to birth to three services for families across the state.