Advocates push for more early child care funding

A report says the number of family childcare providers fell 25% from 2010 to 2019
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 4:53 PM CST
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PULASKI, Wis. (WBAY) - Advocates are shining a lot on what they call a child care crisis in rural Wisconsin.

The Council for a Strong America shared a new report during a visit to Precious Cargo Child Care Center Tuesday.

The report lays out some of the challenges rural Wisconsin faces... like the fact that more than half of Wisconsin residents live in what’s referred to as a child care desert.

“There are more than three children under the age of 5 for every licensed child care provider. That’s not a good ratio,” Admiral Gerald Clusen (ret.) said.

The Council said the number of family child care providers dropped 25% from 2010 to 2019. That left some rural families in a tough spot.

“The pandemic didn’t help things. A lot of child care centers had to close down. They lost their workforce. They went into other fields,” Clusen explained.

Sheri Bishop owns the center in Pulaski. She’s getting a first-hand look at the child care issue.

”I am at capacity and still getting calls probably once a month at least and I have no place else to even recommend for them to go, either. So that’s a real tough situation,” Bishop said.

The situation doesn’t end with day care. Public pre-K classes are impacted too.

“79% of 4-year-olds have access to free preschool, but when it comes to 3-year-olds... only 14% percent have access to pre-K. For all ages preschool access is more limited in rural areas,” Tamar Lieberman with Council for a Strong America said.

Some advocates argue potential funding approval from lawmakers would benefit everybody.

“It’s truly an investment and we know that if we don’t pay up now and help kids get on the right path early on in life... years down the line we’re going to have more costly issues,” Liberman concluded.

The council is pushing for an additional $300 million in funding for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Child Care Counts program.

The program provides funds to help child care providers stay in business... plus recruit and retain staff.

You can read the report here.