August 13, 2014 – This is the third in a series of blogs about opportunities to improve the quality of Michigan’s child care system through tax credits. This week, I’m going to blog more in-depth about Louisiana’s tax credits for child care teachers and directors and what a similar model could do for Michigan.
In Louisiana, child care teachers and directors are eligible for a tax credit if they work for a licensed child care facility that participates in the quality rating system and are enrolled in the Louisiana Pathways Child Care Career Development System. The voluntary Pathways system is a mechanism for training and education for child care professionals that provides scholarships and tracks training received. The refundable tax credit is based on the education level attained ranging from $1,606 to $3,212. In essence, this tax credit is a wage supplement or salary bonus since the credit is provided directly to the child care teacher or director.
Here in Michigan, like the rest of the country, our child care professionals are sorely underpaid for the invaluable work they do. We know that, across-the-board, programs struggle to pay child care professionals a livable wage. For teachers working in programs that serve children in the state’s child care subsidy program, this issue is exacerbated. A child care tax credit for professionals similar to the Louisiana model would provide an opportunity for our child care teachers and directors to continue on a path of professional development – increasing the quality of the care that Michigan children are in – while also providing some salary boost to support those personal investments.
Michigan has a structure set-up to help child care professionals achieve higher education credentials through the TEACH scholarship program. The TEACH scholarship covers the cost of tuition – whether it be for a single early childhood education course or for individuals seeking a Child Development Associate, an Associate degree, or a Bachelor’s degree – as well as the cost of books and a travel stipend. However, TEACH does not provide any ongoing salary bonuses for teachers and directors who have attained higher education levels. A child care tax credit similar to Louisiana would provide an opportunity for teachers and directors to seek professional development opportunities and allow for some financial incentive to support those efforts, better supporting Michigan’s child care professionals and improving the quality of child care.
If high quality child care is something you, your family or your neighbors struggle to afford, please consider talking to candidates running for public office about this issue.
Learn more about opportunities through child are tax credits in our Issues for Michigan’s Children publication.