Letter to the Editor: Quality Childcare Options Needed for Door County

Childcare is an issue that affects all of us in Door County. Though not all of us are as directly affected as parents, we are affected as grandparents, employers, employees and consumers of services. This area suffers a dearth of childcare providers making it difficult for parents of preschool as well as school-aged children to work, whether within traditional business hours or non-traditional. Solutions for this are complex both logistically and financially. Until we have more solutions, Door County is unable to attract young families to the Peninsula. We are known in Wisconsin as a childcare desert because there are so few regulated options for families to turn to.

The legislation passed by Congress called the American Rescue Plan Act has filtered through the State of Wisconsin to help address some needs of our community regarding childcare. Most people don’t know that helping with childcare is not a new concept for the federal government. In the 1940s Congress passed the Lanham Act, which provided mostly high-quality childcare for families all over this country as mothers went to work in the defense industry. During its time, about one million children were served. In the 1960s, Project Head Start was established by President Lyndon Johnson as a part of his War on Poverty and to date has served more than 37 million children and families including children in Door County. In 1971, a bipartisan Congress passed the Comprehensive Child Development Act only to have it vetoed at the last minute by President Nixon which led to the talking points given against public support for childcare used today. 

Currently, there is bipartisan support for President Biden’s proposal on 3K and 4K. Americans support affordable quality schooling and care for young children. Let’s bring more of it to Door County with funding from the public sector and with Republican and Democratic support. The naysayers are hurting all of us.

Becky Van Houten

Fish Creek, Wisconsin