Early Childhood Advocate’s Corner: State of the State

Governor Whitmer delivered the State of the State address on January 24, foreshadowing several of her administration’s policy and FY25 budget priorities for the upcoming year. Here are some early childhood policy and budget highlights from the State of the State.

Caring for MI Family Tax Credit. The Governor unveiled a proposal for a new tax credit that would provide up to $5,000 to unpaid caregivers who are looking after aging and sick relatives. It would cover caregiving expenses such as nursing and respite care, counseling, and transportation. The credit would provide financial relief to parents caring for children with special health needs.

Pre-K for All. Expanding preschool access has been an ongoing priority for the Governor, and in her State of the State address she called on the legislature to pass a budget that would meet her administration’s goal of making free preschool universally available to all four-year-olds in Michigan. The Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), Michigan’s free preschool program, is currently available to four-year-olds whose family income falls at or below 300% of the federal poverty level, and for some families with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level. The proposed expansion would remove the income eligibility requirement, making GSRP available to all 118,000 4-year-olds in the state regardless of how much their household income is.

Free Community College. Governor Whitmer also announced a goal of making community college free for all high school graduates. This would make it easier for child care staff and other early childhood professionals to earn degrees, strengthening the state’s early childhood career pathway infrastructure. Unfortunately, even with this commitment, the supply shortage in the state’s child care workforce will persist as wages for child care educators are so low it drives many early educators out of the field and discourages potentially qualified individuals from entering.

We encourage you to let your legislators know what you think of the Governor’s policy and budget priorities, as well as pending early childhood bills