Evers asks JFC to use federal relief dollars for Child Care Counts program 

According to a recent press release, Gov. Tony Evers has submitted a formal request to the Wisconsin State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance to use remaining federal relief dollars to support Wisconsin’s early care and education community through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families’ Child Care Counts payment program.

The Child Care Counts Program has supported local child care providers by making child care more affordable and accessible for working families while stabilizing the industry to maintain support for the state’s workforce.

The request, if approved, will help continue provider payments through January 2024, when the program is set to end due to legislative Republicans’ refusal to permanently fund the program in the 2023–25 biennial budget.

According to a survey of nearly 1,200 Wisconsin early care and education providers from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, more than 27% of providers reported that their program would have closed without the stabilization grants, and when the grants end, more than 60% of child care directors say they will have to raise tuition on families; more than 33% say they will have to cut wages or will be unable to sustain pay increases for their staff.

Additionally, 54% of Wisconsinites today live in a child care desert, where there are few to no high-quality options for child care in their neighborhood or community.

To date, the Child Care Counts Stabilization Payment Program has distributed more than $378 million to 4,345 child care providers, ensuring 22,000 child care professionals remain or become employed and enabling providers to continue to provide care to 113,000 kids.