Federal dollars to help Wisconsin child care providers, families

Federal dollars are coming to the state to help child care providers.
Federal dollars are coming to the state to help child care providers.(WEAU)
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 5:23 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -More than $500 million is coming to Wisconsin as part of the American Rescue Plan. It’s goal: to help meet the needs of child care providers across the state.

With more people working remotely during the pandemic, Nicole Saastad, the director of The Learning Tree Child Care Center in Eau Claire, says the demand for child care remains high.

“There are still people working, and even when you’re working from home, you can’t keep your kids at home, so parents need childcare because they--it’d be difficult to work from home with young kids there,” Saastad said.

Saastad said they’ve remained open throughout the pandemic--adjusting to the changing rules and guidelines to keep children safe.

Previous rounds of grant money helped the center stay open.

“With that we are able to buy PPE, and make sure we are stocked up with that, and we are able to upgrade our cleaning system, so that we can make sure it is a safe environment--we have a new cleaning product we’re using that’s safe for kids,” Saastad said.

Not all child care providers in the state were able to keep their doors open during the pandemic.

“A lot of programs that have had to shut down just don’t have the funds to re-open, and then the extra sanitation and all of the extra things that you know, we’ve had to do,” said Holly Hale with the Wisconsin Family Child Care Association--a group that works to help child care providers.

Hale also runs her own child care center called Holly’s Little Red Wagon Childcare. She said the child care industry was in trouble even before the pandemic.

One of the main problems: staffing.

Many child care providers can’t afford competitive pay rates to get qualified employees.

Both Hale and Saastad are hopeful this additional federal funding will help.

The funding for child care through the American Rescue Plan will help both providers and families.

Part of the money will help providers reopen and stay open. Another portion is going to make child care accessible and affordable for more families.

To read more about the funding for child care, click HERE.

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