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Opening of Marathon City childcare center fills big void

Parents in Marathon City have been struggling to find childcare nearby, but now with the opening of Little Lions Childcare, it’s filling a void and the opportunity couldn’t come soon enough.
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 9:39 PM CDT
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MARATHON CITY, Wis. (WSAW) - A steady decline in childcare providers in Marathon County is making it challenging for kids to get the care they need. In one community, they’re helping fight that with a brand-new center.

Parents in Marathon City have been struggling to find childcare nearby, but now with the opening of Little Lions Childcare, it’s filling a void and the opportunity couldn’t come soon enough.

“It’s amazing,” parent Erin Schilling said. “Yeah we were kind of counting down the days for it to open for sure.”

For parents like Schilling, the unveiling of a childcare center for the Marathon area is nothing short of a miracle. Up until the opening of Little Lions Childcare in late February, there was no other group licensed centers in Marathon City. Before, many parents had to drive a half hour down the road to Wausau.

“The extra time I get with the kids and for myself… we’re not crazy stressed to leave in the morning and at night to have the extra time to go play in the light outside, it’s been great,” Schilling said.

According to Childcaring, an area referral agency, the number of childcare centers in Marathon County has dropped by 53 percent since 2012. Over 50 percent of zip codes in the county are in what’s called a “childcare desert.”

“Quality childcare is something that parents strive for when they have to go to work. Nothing is more important to them than their children,” Little Lions Childcare Director Kristin Mantey said.

The project was a team effort. Little Lions is operated by St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, they saw the need and jumped on it. Area businesses also pitched in to get it up and running.

“The employers were seeing that too, that need because they’re having a hard time getting people in because if parents don’t have a place to send their child they can’t work,” Mantey said.

The new center’s modern lay out allows for more space and a up to 70 kids. The latest amenities and convenient location gives parents the assurance they need.

“Very impressed with everything and even being here, just so many little things have been thought of and it’s really awesome,” Schilling said.

The opening of Little Lions completes part one of a two part project. Part two is to open a new park next to the center with baseball and softball fields, basketball courts and a playground.

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