Biden campaign highlights child care issues in Wisconsin; Republicans push back

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 5:33 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Central Wisconsin lawmakers and child care workers joined the Joe Biden campaign for a roundtable on Friday as part of a series of several virtual news events across the country on the candidate’s newly-released plan to address long term affordable child care issues in the country.

The event comes as 39% of child care providers have closed their doors in Wisconsin by the end of May due to the pandemic, according to a July report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum—and as many as half of all providers in central Wisconsin counties like Portage and Adams. The Economic Policy Institute cites Wisconsin as the 20th most expensive state in the country for child care, at an annual cost per year of more than $12,000--higher than some college tuition.

The plan would invest $775 billion over ten years into universal child care and in-home care for the elderly population, a plan that the Trump campaign arm in Wisconsin pushes back on as hiking taxes. A spokesperson pointed to the President’s parental leave for federal employees, expansion of child care and development block grants, and increased child tax credits as part of his response to child care issues. Staffers say Biden’s plan would be paid in part by rolling back ‘unproductive and unequal tax breaks’ for real estate investors making over $400,000 and increasing tax compliance for high-income earners. Key points of his plan include increasing tax credits and state subsidies to help families afford child care while increasing pay for child care providers.

Joining in the roundtable included Lisa Cabasos, Ho Chunk language instructor; Raeane Funmaker, an early childhood educator; and Chia Her, a child care provider in Wausau. They cited a need for more affordable training, emotional support, and better pay and benefits in the field.

“I’ve been working in the child care field for 15 years in the Wausau area, and I also have kids of my own,” Chai Her, a Wausau child care provider, noted. “We need benefits...whenever we’re sick, what do we do? We have to find our own. It’s very expensive.”

Democrat state representative Katrina Shankland also joined the roundtable, saying it was among the top issues working families were expressing to her in the past few months.

“We have to invest in our child care providers but we also have to support working families,” Shankland noted.

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