Today we are sharing our latest Voices from the Valley podcast episode about a complex topic: The childcare crisis facing many people in the Fox Valley.
Finding quality childcare in Wisconsin is a challenge, with long waitlists. It’s also expensive. Many parents say they are paying more than their monthly mortgage or rent to have their children cared for while they work. And for single parents, it’s a difficult road to navigate.
If you don’t have young children in your life, you may be thinking this topic doesn’t apply to you – but it does! Nearly nine in 10 working parents say childcare costs them time and productivity at work, which may mean more work for others or jobs that don’t get done. At the national level, according to a study from ReadyNation, the childcare crisis is costing our country $122 Billion dollars a year, because of lost earnings, productivity and taxes. For our state, in 2018, 50% of Wisconsinites, and 70% of Wisconsinites in rural areas, lived in a childcare desert, which is an area where childcare is not available, or the number of children exceeds the number of slots.
Childcare providers are not babysitters. They are trained professionals. But their poverty-level wages and minimal benefits contribute to high staff turnover in many centers, which affects availability and quality of care, and is the reason why many centers unfortunately are closing their doors.
Industry experts and childcare providers say finding a solution to all of this will require the efforts of government, employers and families working together. Like most complex issues facing us, there is no single solution that will address the shortage of care, centers’ high operating costs, workers’ very low wages and the exorbitant prices families pay for care.
So how do we as a community invest in solutions? We’re excited to tell you that a local task force, the Greater Fox Cities Childcare Alliance, is in talks right now specifically working on the provider compensation piece of the puzzle. In this episode we hear from the Alliance’s Suzanne Brault. And we’ll visit Joyful Beginnings Academy in Dale, just west of Appleton, where two moms have found a childcare solution that is attracting national news attention.
Listen to Voices From the Valley: Childcare Crisis
Note: We are awaiting news on the status of a pandemic-era child care subsidy program, Child Care Counts, that handed out nearly $600 million to more than 4,900 child care providers from March 2020 through March 2023 to help providers struggling to make ends meet. The funding will be exhausted by February of 2024, according to the fiscal bureau. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed making the program permanent using more than $300 million in state money over the next two years, but Republicans rejected that in their budget proposal last month.
“…Evers used his veto authority to increase flexibility in the distribution of funds for several aid programs. Although Republicans opted not to approve Evers’ proposal to spend $350 million on extending a pandemic-era childcare relief program, they did allocate $15 million for a revolving loan fund for childcare providers.The governor used his veto authority to allow those funds to be distributed as grants rather than loans.”
- Greater Fox Valley Childcare Alliance
- Joyful Beginnings Academy
- Raising Wisconsin-Econimic Ripple Effect
- $122 Billion: The Growing, Annual Cost of the Infant-Toddler Child Care Crisis – Ready Nation
- CBS Evening News: Wisconsin mothers look for solutions to child care deserts
- Local moms combat child care crisis in rural Outagamie County by starting new center – Post Crescent
- Should Wisconsin fund childcare like it does roads? – New News Lab
- Wisconsin families face high child care costs, leading some to delay conception – New News Lab
- Loop: Grants Help First Five Fox Valley Empower Families
- Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region