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Michigan Childcare Workers Rally in Detroit for Higher Pay

Photo: Sean Boeberitz ~ CUMULUS MEDIA

DETROIT, May 8, 2023 ~ After working through the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in demand, Michigan childcare workers are looking for better pay.

About 100-200 people and gathered Monday to rally outside the Cadillac Place building in Detroit, demanding higher pay for childcare providers and other benefits. This was part of a nationwide event titled, “A Day Without Childcare Rally” where childcare workers took the day off to raise awareness of issues related to the industry.

Owner of Angels of Essence and member of childcare worker group Provider’s Place Betty Henderson helped organize the Detroit rally. She said it was meant to amplify their voices to officials like Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Henderson said pay rates to childcare providers are set by the state, based on the age of the children being looked after and the star rating of the childcare center. The star ratings are based on the Great Start to Quality childcare system.

In 2019, childcare centers could only make $1.95 – $6 an hour per hour, per child, she said. These rates increased to an average of $10 per hour in 2022, but now are climbing down to pre-pandemic rates.

Despite working in childcare for 23 years, Henderson’s company currently makes about $7 an hour, per child. She must keep her center open 24 hours, seven days a week to meet the needs of parents and her own finances.


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(CONTINUED) The rates set by the state impact what childcare centers can pay their workers, Henderson added. The average childcare worker made about $10–11 an hour in 2019, but increased to about $12 an hour in 2022. She is concerned that their pay will decrease later this year, when she would love to pay $15–16 an hour to her workers.

Other goals from the rally included eliminating the star ratings for pay, stopping childcare providers from being overworked, and to start a statewide childcare union, Henderson said.

There has been a recent rise in childcare demand following the pandemic, with long waitlists of parents looking to get their children watched. With many workers leaving childcare and job openings being left unfilled, Henderson said workers should be incentivized to stay and join the industry with better pay and benefits.

As Michigan looks to establish a universal plan for K-12 education, Henderson said the childcare industry should not be left out of the conversation.

We have to make sure our babies (are ready) for kindergarten,” Henderson said. “It starts with us. We start these kids with small groups, large groups, circle time, reading, and counting. We are the beginning of their entire lifeline.