Child care businesses report boom as parents head back to work

By: Mary Beth Almond | Metro | Published September 1, 2022

 Teacher Amy Ortiz helps a student make handprint artwork for Earth Day.

Teacher Amy Ortiz helps a student make handprint artwork for Earth Day.

Photo provided by Amy Oritz


METRO DETROIT — Last year, many child care centers across Michigan were forced to close their doors due to financial strain and limited staff, but this year, local centers say their business is booming.

In the height of the pandemic, Amy Ortiz, a teacher with over 25 years of experience, said she lost her job as a prekindergarten teacher in the Birmingham Public Schools program when the district had to temporarily shutter the program due to COVID-19.

“When the pandemic hit, we didn’t have a program come fall, and I had two kids in college, so not working wasn’t an option,” she said.

To keep the paychecks rolling in, Ortiz had to get creative — a move that she says has changed her life for the better.

After losing her job, Ortiz began working in a kindergarten pod three times a week and started a small preschool in her home, eventually becoming a fully licensed child care provider.

“The silver lining is, my career has never been better,” she said.

This fall, Ortiz opened her own preschool, Ortiz EduCare at 1160 Grant St. in Birmingham. Ortiz EduCare, which serves children ages 3-5, currently has a waitlist.

“I have amazing families, amazing staff, and there is such a demand,” she said. “I have to pinch myself. I just can’t believe this is happening that I am opening my own school.”

The facility features a medical-grade air-purification system, a new heating and cooling system, and other equipment and procedures designed to protect students and staff during a pandemic. The maximum class size, she said, is 14 students.

“We’re very COVID-conscious,” she said. “We definitely listen and follow the CDC. … I want to keep it small, intimate and safe.”

With the help of state and federal funding, fewer day care and child care centers have recently had to close their doors in Michigan.

Pamela Greenwell, who works in administration at Jelly Moon Learning Center in Clinton Township, said the center is fortunate.

Jelly Moon Learning Center, she said, is a federally funded program with a partnership with Macomb County Head Start and the Macomb County Great Start to Readiness Program.

“Financially, we maintained our funding throughout the pandemic, which we were very blessed to have,” she said. “We had a lot of support.”

What was hard at the time, she explained, was balancing virtual and in-person learning to meet each student and family’s needs.

“We had to be very creative to meet all students’ individual needs, but we did succeed,” she said.

For the 2022-23 school year, Jelly Moon is also reporting an increase in demand and has a waiting list for its tuition-based classroom, but Greenwell said the school is accepting students for its free preschool program offered in partnership with the Great Start Readiness Program offered through Macomb County.

The center, located at 35618 Harper in Clinton Township, serves infants through 12 years old.

“We are seeing a demand for child care now that everything has opened up again, and that’s why we have a waiting list,” Greenwell said.