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Michigan Tri-Share Pilot Program

New childcare pilot will put Michigan on the map as a leader in childcare innovation.

In 2019, a coalition of businesses, key state leaders, legislators, research and children advocacy groups was formed with the purpose of tackling child care accessibility, affordability, and quality.

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Every parent in Michigan deserves access to quality, safe, and affordable childcare, and the Child Care Tri-Share program will bring us one step closer to that goal.  – Governor Gretchen Whitmer


Childcare Providers in Michigan

The Challenge

The Grand Rapids Chamber recognized the need for a focused effort that brings all perspectives to the table, elevates the business voice, makes high-quality childcare more accessible and affordable in Michigan. The Chamber brought together a coalition that highlights a shared purpose for addressing childcare issues in the state:

  • Affordability, that leads to quality
  • Workforce development
  • Increase labor market
  • Impact poverty cycles and provide a path to prosperity
  • Garner business community support

The Solution

The Tri-Share Pilot Program institutes three pilot programs in rural, urban, and suburban settings. Affordability can be achieved by splitting the cost of childcare between the state, families, and businesses. Furthermore, families, businesses, and providers would work with a Facilitator Hub that can identify supply from the provider side and demand from businesses. Facilitator Hubs will also be the fiduciary and administrative arm.

Businesses voluntarily elect to be in the pilot and have the opportunity to offer this benefit to their employees up to 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. If solutions are implemented effectively, childcare becomes more affordable for families, allowing parents to climb the economic ladder.

“It is a priority of mine to find innovative ideas in addressing affordable and accessible childcare. That is why I am proud to have been a part of an incredible effort to introduce this pilot program that brings business and state resources together to alleviate some of the financial burden that prevents parents from re-entering the workforce and starting on the path to prosperity.”

– Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R)

Diagnosing the Problem

The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted the childcare industry, business, and working families. As the economy and communities recover, there is great opportunity to close the current gaps in the childcare system that the pandemic has exposed, while focusing on the future and innovation that can spur great results. The Tri-Share Pilot Program is the first of its kind, offering a unique and innovative way of thinking about childcare funding, accessibility, and affordability.

Key Partnerships

The coalition was developed in August 2019. The Grand Rapids Chamber brought together the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) which was interested in childcare policy, a talent think-tank in West Michigan, Talent 2025, and state legislators Representative Greg VanWoerkom and Senator Curt VanderWall who were ready to lead in this policy area. The coalition currently includes business groups from across Michigan, children advocacy groups, research, legislators, and key state leaders.

1 in 5

providers remain closed statewide


in total payments ($491/child)


total eligible children

*Data highlighted in this case study is from November 2020.

Hurdles & Lessons Learned

Coalition-building on an important issue is often difficult because of the need to strike a delicate balance between having enough voices, and the right voices at the table. A constant hurdle is preventing the table to get overpopulated and in the way of progress. Overall, the process from coalition inception to the present, has been smooth. The coalition anticipates many of the hurdles will occur mid-2021.

Is This Model Repeatable?

At this point, the coalition will explore another allocation of funds in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget to keep the pilot going. Long term, the coalition will need to utilize a steady stream of funding, like TANF, for the program. The intent is to grow this model at a reasonable rate over the next few years with the end goal resulting in a statewide network. The coalition will determine the next phase of the pilot based upon interest from this application cycle.

Addressing the Childcare Need and the Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has highlighted the gaps in our child care industry. More businesses across Michigan are recognizing just how vital child care is to the stability of our economy. We are hopeful that with business leaning in financially to be a part of the solution and having the facilitator model in place with the pilot program that this pilot program is another tool in our toolbox to lift up our families, our child care providers, and our overall economy.

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