Child Care A Top Priority For Government Affairs Team
The Grand Rapids Chamber’s Government Affairs team has been working tirelessly for our members to provide access to connections, share relevant and timely information, and influence the policy landscape to create a more prosperous West Michigan for all.
Our membership and businesses across the nation have recognized that a thriving business community relies on an accessible, affordable, and reliable child care infrastructure. This is a topic increasingly brought to us by the business community as we look to address barriers to employment and is highlighted by the more than 203,000 women that have left the Michigan workforce since the beginning of the pandemic.
Below are some of the ways our government affairs pillars show up in our child care advocacy.
1. Access to Connections
Our team has provided numerous connections between our membership, child care providers, and our leaders in Lansing. We’ve connected our child care network directly with the Governor’s office, different state departments, and legislators to discuss barriers to their business. Through it all, we’ve found the connection between Lansing policymakers and our small business child care providers is needed now more than ever.
Most recently, our team is facilitating a conversation between child care providers and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) on ways to grow their business. Providers have identified opportunities to improve the process for changing their license to grant them the ability to serve more children. Not only does this expand the provider’s business, but this allows for more children to be cared for and works to close the gap between the demand for quality child care and the limited supply. This access to LARA will allow providers to determine the appropriate next steps to better serve our children and community.
2. Sharing Information
Our leadership and momentum for innovative child care solutions in Michigan has put us on the map. Whether it’s the development of the nation-leading tri-share pilot program, or the true bipartisanship around child care efforts, we’re working to connect Michigan and share our story with national partners.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation invited Grand Rapids Chamber’s Director of Government Affairs, Alexa Kramer, to participate in a congressional briefing hosted by the First Five Years Fund. Alexa used this opportunity to share with Hill offices and other child care advocates across the nation the important work being done in Michigan. This opportunity lifted up our collective West Michigan business voice to continue to emphasize the connection between the child care industry and the health of our overall economy. It also allowed the Grand Rapids Chamber to share insights, data and information to a broad audience. Listen to the full conversation here.
3. Influence in Lansing and Beyond
The Grand Rapids Chamber has continued to lead the business community on child care policy and advocacy. Lansing is on track to more than double the investment in the Child Care Coalition’s tri-share pilot program this coming fiscal year, and the coalition continues to find ways to partner and move the needle on child care reforms.
The Grand Rapids Chamber supports the bipartisan legislative package that was recently introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives. This package seeks to address regulatory concerns and aims to build child care supply.
We’ve also led the business community on a joint letter to leadership on the best ways to spend child care dollars.
Like many of the significant issues, improving access to quality and affordable child care is a long-term commitment, and our team will continue to make this a top priority in the months ahead.
To engage further in our work, join our Child Care Collective list. This informal group is the best way to stay up to date on the Chamber’s work specific to child care.
Questions? Contact Alexa Kramer at [email protected].