MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Whether on signs, or in speeches, or even in sidewalk chalk, the message of some Marquette County residents was clear Tuesday evening. Marquette County needs better childcare. Around 30 parents held a march for children at the Marquette County Courthouse, to bring awareness to the issue of childcare and what they believe is an unfair allocation of pandemic relief funding.
“There are thousands, thousands of kids and hundreds and hundreds of families throughout the county that simply cannot find the childcare they need to hold down a job and put food on the table,” said parent, Ryan Stock.
At issue is the allocation and disbursement of the $13 million given to Marquette County as part of the American Rescue Plan Act or ARPA. The main goal of ARPA is to provide funding that will change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate relief for American workers. The plan hopes to build a bridge to an equitable economic recovery and immediately reduce child poverty. The organizers of the march claim the $100,000 earmarked for childcare if woefully inadequate and unfair.
“What we’re looking for is more than lip service that says you care about children,” said Gwen Storm, parent. “We’re looking for you to actually show that out in the numbers. That you are putting a significant investment in children and families, in prevention in our community, versus a courthouse which I don’t understand how that benefits the average person in Marquette County.”
After the march, the parents spoke out during the public comment session of the Marquette County Commission Meeting. The parents cited the inequality of only $100,000 for childcare, versus the $1.5 million going to courthouse renovations, including; new carpet, furniture, air conditioning, bathroom renovations and drapes. It’s something this group claims is a luxury compared to the need for childcare.
“When you look at the exact money that they’ve earmarked for childcare, it is insulting,” said Stock. “It is a grave injustice to their constituents. $100,000 is just a drop in the bucket.”