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MIT Sloan School of Management students examining Newaygo County child care among working poor

TrueNorth food truck photo
TrueNorth Community Services

Newaygo County social support service organizations are working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Three MBA students have travelled from Boston to Newaygo County where they’ll be working to better understand the drivers of poverty there. In particular, they’re studying the impacts of government benefits and inadequate child care.

Rural communities like Newaygo County face specific childcare challenges.

“I think in general it can be broken down into two buckets.”

Georgia Travers is a student with the MIT Sloan School of Management studying the issue in Newaygo County.

“Access to child care and whether or not there are child care facilities that are licensed and safe and accessible. And then the second bucket is cost.”

Can rural working poor afford child care or does it make better financial sense to stay home with the kids.

“There’s not a second shift or a third shift child care in the community so that really puts a barrier on some of our community members who have those second and third shift jobs and who have families and might be single parents,” explains Michelle Marciniak with Circles Newaygo County a social support services organization working alongside True North and The Fremont Area Community Foundation. All seeking solutions for providing adequate child care.

The three organizations also wants to eliminate the phenomenon known as the Cliff Effect. 

"People who are making a fairly low-wage, maybe get a slight raise or go from not working to working in a minimum wage or low-wage job, and as a result lose food support or child care subsidies or other government benefits." 

That’s a loss of real income sending them over a financial cliff. It’s a disincentive to upward mobility. The MIT team is evaluating the severity of it in Newaygo County and then coming up with solutions alleviating the effect.

“So, whether there is an option to sort of be gradually taken off benefits for food or child care as you slowly make more money.”

Travers explains the study will examine other systemic problems like a lack of transportation and affordable housing.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.