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New programs launched to help Michigan families out of poverty

Michigan Poverty Task Force raises $220M in investments
Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity graphic on a laptop with a Michigan map...
Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity graphic on a laptop with a Michigan map graphic.(WLUC/Michigan LEO)
Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 11:43 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - With nearly four million households struggling to make ends meet in Michigan, the Michigan Poverty Task Force celebrates movement on recommendations and over $220M in additional resources coming together to lift Michigan families out of poverty.

“I am grateful to the task force for working together across state government to help us deliver $220 million in investments and critical programs to help more kids get access to preschool, ensure families can keep the heat on in the winter, expand childcare programs, and so much more,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

In February 2021, the Task Force presented 35 recommendations to create an anti-poverty agenda to support struggling families in Michigan. The recommendations focused on short, medium and long-term strategies that included expansion of existing, effective anti-poverty policies and bold new initiatives to help low-income Michiganders navigate and transcend poverty.

“Michigan Poverty Task Force has made significant progress in accomplishing our recommendations to ensure every Michigander has access to economic opportunity and prosperity,” said Kim Trent, Deputy Director of Prosperity, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). “This team has been focused on the key issues that will have the most impact on struggling families, and working hard together to move the recommendations and Michiganders forward.”

Significant investments for Michigan families were included in Gov. Whitmer’s fiscal year 2022 (FY22) budget based on Task Force recommendations:

  • Investing $168M to Expand the Great Start Readiness Program: Gov. Whitmer signed a historic school aid budget increasing the early education program with an investment of roughly $168M into the Great Start Readiness program. The program helps four-year-old children at risk of school failure to reach a statewide target enrollment rate of 90% when combined with the children served by the federally funded Head Start Program.
  • Investing $47M to Establish a LIHEAP Program for Water: Energy assistance for Michiganders struggling to pay their water bills and have faced losing this vital resource that focuses on reconnects and arrearages, not those facing shutoffs.
  • Investing $2.5M to further the MI Tri-Share Child Care program: Through Tri-Share, the cost of child care is shared equally by an eligible employee, their employer and the State of Michigan, with coordination being provided regionally by a facilitator hub.
  • Investing $2M to Support and Incubate Children’s Savings Accounts: Children’s Savings Accounts offer a highly effective asset-building strategy to improve financial literacy, boost educational achievement for low-income children and build wealth in low-income families.
  • Investing $1M for Poverty Task Force Research and Planning: FY22 budget funding for recommendations made by the Michigan Poverty Task Force to conduct research on the state’s use of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding and evaluate barriers to state assistance programs. Funding is also provided to develop a coordinated plan to address the digital divide, which acts as a barrier for families accessing available economic, educational, health, housing, and safety services.

The task force, led by LEO, consists of leaders from 14 state departments, with input from the legislature, philanthropy and community organizations working together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a comprehensive anti-poverty plan for Michigan and will continue to move the needle forward on the remaining recommendations as well as look forward to additional recommendations coming in early 2022.

More information on the Poverty Task Force is available at Michigan.gov/PovertyTaskForce.

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