Some West Michigan families struggle with the cost of child care

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The cost of child care is forcing some families to make difficult decisions. (WWMT/Callie Rainey)

A recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General shows child care costs exceed financial aid for low-income parents.

The Child Care Development Fund helps low-income families pay for child care. The federal government recommends states pay 75% of the total costs of child care. Michigan pays 71% of the costs for full-time licensed child care center assistance and 83% for full-time licensed family child care homes.

The report shows families of all income levels across the nation struggle to afford child care.

Karla Reinke, a stay at home mom, said it was always her dream.

"My husband and I worked about six years together of our married life before we had him so that I could stay home, because we knew it was expensive. My sister-in-law was a teacher. Her husband and her work full-time. After their first kid I think they were able to find something around the $50-a-day mark and that was a godsend. Then when they had their second child it was no longer possible for her to work because the price of child care for both of them. Especially infants," said Reinke.

Dr. Nakia Baylis, with the United Way, said in Michigan that costs a little under $2,100 a month for licensed child care services for one infant and one preschooler.

"$31.92, the full-time hourly income needed by a family of four, two adults, one preschooler and one infant to achieve a stability budget. 61% of Michigan jobs pay less than $20 an hour," Baylis said.

Assistance is only available for low-income families for licensed child care providers, but there are also capacity issues.

"So how can we bridge that gap? Training, credentialing folks who aren't licensed. That way we have more space, safe environments where folks have been trained and we have the subsidies in place that can go in to those facilities," said Baylis.

United Way is just one of many resources available to families in need and the Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center provides free part-time child care for low-income families.

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