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Pilot program offers reduced cost child care for northern Michigan hotel workers

Province of British Columbia

Hospitality workers in northern Michigan will soon pay much less for child care services with a new pilot program.

Traverse City Tourism and a state grant will offset costs to help with a worker shortage.

The Tri-Share Pilot program will cover two-thirds of child care for families who work in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau counties. A similar program, not connected to the hospitality industry, is being offered in three regions around the state.

Traverse City Tourism President and CEO Trevor Tkach says a lack of affordable daycare has meant some hospitality employees have not rejoined the industry. The goal is to retain and recruit new workers.

“We’re hopeful that will show that the tourism industry is dedicated to family dynamic and making sure that the bigger issues of the family and balance between work and family life is being met,” Tkach says.

Tkach says the program won’t guarantee employees a child care spot, but the Great Start to Quality Northwest Resource Center will work with individuals to find an opening.

Black Star Farms Inn owner Sherri Campbell Fenton says she lost an employee last year because the worker couldn’t find child care. She anticipates the program will help people make a hospitality career work for them.

“To be able to let people know that we’re a part of this program and they can have a large chunk of their childcare payments met by these other partners, that’s really exciting.”

Campbell Fenton says workers stand to make more money if they have after-school child care covered.

The pilot program is available to low income families where at least one parent works at a hotel for 25 hours a week or more.

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.