Wis. awards grants to help communities work on child care solutions
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Emilie Amundson, said child care needs to be seen as a community issue, and Thursday, it committed funding toward that in several communities around the state, with several in the north central region.
In Wausau, Sec. Amundson announced awards totaling $22.9 million in Project Growth grants to 28 community teams and more than 100 businesses, meant to help the state’s communities work to solve their challenges with child care.
The project has two types of grant opportunities: It received more than 660 Partner Up! applications and 39 Dream Up! applications. Grants were awarded to communities and businesses in all regions of the state, but focused on areas that are considered child care deserts, a large majority of which are in the northern region.
The Dream Up! grant program provides $75,000 in strategic planning support for each community team to come up with ways to build the infrastructure to support long-term solutions to child care issues within their communities. It is meant to bring together a cross-sectional, collaborative, effort to solve the child care problems.
“Folks have been able to build really broad-based tables that include nonprofits and business leaders and chambers of commerce, and the city and the county... and that feels like something new in the state of Wisconsin to have that kind of broad-based support to look at child care,” Sec. Amundson said.
Among the award recipients is a team made up of stakeholders from Marathon County.
”The question we got a lot is: ‘What’s the project?’ And we’re like, that’s the point! There isn’t-- what we get to do with this is the strategic plan to figure out what that comprehensive, systemic, long-term, sustainable solution is,” Liz Brodek, Wausau’s development director explained.
She said they want to have input from child care providers, families from all backgrounds, dynamics, and living situations, employers, and government leaders to brainstorm and ensure there are not unintended consequences by possible solutions. Participating child care providers will receive additional $5,000 stipends if they submit business improvement plans during the strategic planning process.
Other recipient teams in the north central region include Adams County, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Stockbridge-Munsee community, Waupaca County, separately the City of Waupaca, the Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation team representing several northern counties including Oneida, Lincoln County, and Taylor County.
The Partner Up! grant program provides funding to support partnerships between businesses and child care providers, where the business purchases slots for employees’ children at existing, regulated child care providers. Recipients from the north central region include Star Business Machines in Portage County, Ken’s Excavating, Skinkis Lawn and Landscape, and Paiser Family Dairy in Shawano County, Terri’s Treehouse, and Northwoods Child Development Center in Vilas County, and Rural Access to Justice in Waupaca County.
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