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MI Tri-Share program available for families to cut child care costs

Last year, the state of Michigan announced an expanded Tri-Share child care program, splitting the cost for childcare between the employee, their employer and the state.

The program is up and running and already saving families hundreds of dollars but it could be doing even more if more people jumped on board.

“Any way I can help a parent and any way I can help pay a child care bill, I’m in,” said Brandy Riopelle, the program director at the Otsego County Economic Alliance.


Riopelle is in charge of connecting employers and parents to the Tri-Share program for six counties.

The Tri-Share program takes the cost of child care and splits it among three entities, the family, their employer and the state. This, of course, cuts the cost for families and offers an attractive benefit for businesses.

“For employers, it’s job retention and can be used as a hiring tool in the hiring process,” said Riopelle.

Riopelle, and others like her, have been going to businesses to get them to sign on and spoken to employees on how to get their workplace on board.


“I just walked into places and I asked them if they would be interested in this program,” said Riopelle. “Everyone was very interested in the program. They thought it was great because they were going to help pay for childcare expenses. However, when it came down to actually working it into their budgets, unfortunately they couldn’t make it work and move forward with it.”

The child care crisis is two fold, the cost is prohibitive and the supply is low.

“It’s not that enough employers are signing up across the state of Michigan, it’s that there’s not enough daycare facilities in the state of Michigan,” said Riopelle.

The idea being by dropping the cost on families and demand will rise and opportunity for more daycares to open.


“It’s a little more difficult in those outskirt areas like Montmorency County to get involved,” said Riopelle. “Where they may have only a couple daycares and the Gaylord area has up to 30.”

The state has also tried to streamline the licensing process for potential daycare providers. In the early days of the Tri-Share program, an impact is being seen and a need is rising to be met.

“We’re seeing that if you have new corporations or businesses coming into your area, you have to have affordable childcare in addition to housing,” Riopelle said.

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