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THE GREAT LAKES BAY REGION TRI-SHARE CHILD CARE PROGRAM FOCUSES ON EXPANDING EMPLOYER PARTICIPATION WHILE CHAMPIONING EMPLOYEE ELIGIBILITY
THE GREAT LAKES BAY REGION TRI-SHARE CHILD CARE PROGRAM FOCUSES ON EXPANDING EMPLOYER PARTICIPATION WHILE CHAMPIONING EMPLOYEE ELIGIBILITY
Kelly Lyvere
Thursday, November 04, 2021

The Michigan Women’s Commission (MWC) has awarded a $300,000 grant to the Saginaw Intermediate School District on behalf of the Great Lakes Bay Region to act as one of five regions across the State of Michigan to pilot the MI Tri-Share Child Care Pilot Program (Tri-Share).  This program assists qualifying employees, who work with participating regional employers, with child care expenses.

Through the Tri-Share program, child care expenses are shared by an employer, the employee, and the State of Michigan with each contributing up to one-third of the costs.  For example, under this program, an employee paying $9,000 in annual child care services will now pay $3,000, the employer will cover $3,000, and the State of Michigan will cover $3,000.  Participating employers within Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, and Saginaw Counties will also receive a tax credit at the end of the year to mitigate the employer’s contributions.

Several regional employers have expressed interest in the program including Fullerton Tool, Forward Corporation, and The Design Company.  Regional employers actively participating in the program include Bay Arenac ISD, Children’s Discovery Academy, Gratiot-Isabella ISD, Saginaw ISD, and Vantage Plastics.  The Tri-Share program is open to additional applicants from qualifying counties and it is anticipated that 70 to 80 employees from participating companies will be able to engage in the program.  Participating employers must agree to identify and recruit eligible employees, provide the employer portion of each participating employee's child care costs, and maintain communication with the facilitator hub regarding each employee's continued employment and eligibility.  Eligible employees must be employed by a participating employer and have an income at or above 186% and at or below 285% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and not otherwise eligible for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Care Subsidy. 

The Great Lakes Business Advisory Council for Early Childhood recruits and partners with employers, partners with child care providers, assists eligible employees with finding available child care openings, and remains responsible for program administration.  The advisory council, sponsored by Consumers Energy and the Saginaw Community Foundation, is a consortium of regional Great Start Collaboratives, businesses, community leaders, and philanthropic members which includes representation from education, nonprofit, business, government, and health industries.  Educational agencies are the foundation of the council and include Bay-Arenac ISD, Clare-Gladwin RESA, Gratiot-Isabella RESD, Midland County ESA, Saginaw ISD, and each of their Great Start Collaborative programs, including support from the Great Start to Quality Eastern Resource Center team.  The Saginaw ISD will serve as the fiduciary and regional facilitator hub for the awarded MI Tri-Share Child Care Pilot Program Grant.

The Michigan Women's Commission received an initial grant of $1.1 million from the State of Michigan earlier this year to cover the costs of the pilot program and they recently received an additional allocation of $2.5 million in state funding to expand the pilot to other regions.  The Tri-Share program began grant facilitated operations on March 15, 2021, and is operational through July 31, 2022.  However, the State of Michigan anticipates that the success of the pilot programs will drive future program extension and expansion into other communities in Michigan.  The five regional facilitator hubs chosen for the Tri-Share pilot are: Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, serving Muskegon County; Saginaw Intermediate School District, serving the Great Lakes Bay Region; the United Way of Northwest Michigan, serving a five-county rural region in Northwest Lower Michigan, and; W.K. Kellogg Foundation™, serving Battle Creek and Detroit.

Employers within the Great Lakes Bay Region interested in learning more, or participating in the MI Tri-Share Child Care Pilot Program, should contact Rich VanTol, 989-233-8729, vantolr@baisd.net or Dr. Ericka Taylor, 989-399-7423, etaylor@sisd.cc.