Stevens Point employers to consider next phase of plan to address childcare shortage

Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 12:36 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - Stevens Point businesses will consider moving on to the next step to form a partnership with other businesses to create a new daycare center.

Tuesday, Worzalla and KinderCare hosted a virtual event to seek feedback about the childcare shortage.

KinderCare is asking large employers to consider employer consortium. The businesses, likely three to four, would team up to fund a childcare center for its employees. KinderCare has centers all over the country, along with several other consortiums in Wisconsin. KinderCare provides care for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years.

Brianne Petruzalek, Vice President of Human Resources at Worzalla said some of the current perks of employment like increased wages and bonuses have not solved the labor shortage. She explained that Stevens Point and the surrounding communities are in a childcare desert-- meaning there are not enough providers to care for children of working people. She said one provider she spoke with said they had 100 families on a waitlist for childcare.

“So talking with current childcare providers in our community that led me then to talk with several childcare consulting companies. One of which is KinderCare. And through that discussion, Tiffaney [Tiffaney Styles of KinderCare] and her co-worker had suggested we talk with the community to say, ‘Are there other employers who would be willing to go down this road with us together?’,” said Petruzalek

Representatives from Delta Dental, Monogram and Gamber Johnson were a few of the employers on the call Tuesday.

A spokesman from Gamber Johnson said the issue isn’t necessarily the cost of daycare, it’s finding a center with an opening.

Styles explained consortium brings employers together to find a childcare solution.

“[The reason for] coming together for this town hall is to be able to answer questions and identify those employers who were like, ‘You know what, this sounds really cool, let’s bring it to the next step’, said Styles.

She said at the final step they work with the employees of the consortium of employers. They’ll work with the employees to enroll and pay for tuition to fund the ongoing operation of the center.

“And then KinderCare, hires and trains the staff and manages the center by also providing that early childhood development for children,” said Styles.

Styles said the next step is the needs assessment. This would be a survey pushed out to employees by the employer. The goal would be to have this step completed this month. Phase II includes a site evaluation and market overview, along with financial projects. Phase III includes design consulting and construction.

Employers interested in the needs assessment must let Worzalla know by April 15. Employers who participate in the assessment are not obligated to move forward.

About 40 people, representing about 30 organizations attended the virtual forum.

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