Child care strike urged Tuesday as program funding in jeopardy

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature have voted to end funding for a pandemic-era child care subsidy program.
Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 5:55 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2023 at 8:18 PM CDT
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MADISON — A recent vote by the Joint Committee on Finance to end funding for a pandemic-era child care program has advocates with the Wisconsin Child Care Administration association urging child care providers to take a stand. They’re calling for a strike at child care centers across Wisconsin on Tuesday.

The vote happened in the early morning hours of Friday, June 16, to end funding for the Child Care Counts Program.

This program awarded nearly $600 million to more than 4,900 child care providers in Wisconsin from March 2020 through March of this year. Those funds were used to keep child care providers’ doors open, using the money to cover expenses, but also preventing some centers from having to raise their rates. That funding will be gone by next February.

The Joint Committee on Finance has 16 members, 12 Republicans and four Democrats. Republicans, like Senator Eric Wimberger of Green Bay, were in agreement to end the funding, saying:

“Instead of continuing that program with state tax dollars, the Joint Committee on Finance made a substantial and responsible $95 million investment into state child care programs that are needs-based. This includes $15 million to support new child care facilities and $5 million to help retain qualified child care workers.”

Governor Tony Evers proposed making the child care counts program permanent using more than $300 million in state money over the next two years, but Republicans rejected that. Democratic Senator Kelda Roys says ending this funding will ultimately hurt our economy.

The advocacy group Wisconsin Child Care Administration Association says they sent letters to child care centers throughout Wisconsin, asking them to strike on Tuesday to show the impact when families don’t have child care.

Action 2 News hasn’t heard from any child care providers that plan to take part in the strike yet, but one local provider, after getting the letter, said the last few years have been challenging and they couldn’t in good conscience participate because of how it would impact the families and staff they serve.

The Wisconsin Child Care Administration Association is calling for providers to strike Tuesday to protest a budget exclusion.