Letter to the Editor: Support Increased Funding for Childcare Counts Program

When the American Rescue Plan ended on Sept. 30, according to the Century Foundation, an estimated 3.2 million children were at risk of losing their spots in childcare in the U.S. Per year, provider disruption could cost “families $9 billion in lost earnings,” and states “$10.6 billion in economic activity.”

 In Wisconsin, 87,425 kids were at risk of losing childcare, and 2,110 childcare programs could close.

Gov. Tony Evers convened a special session of the legislature on Sept. 20 to keep the Child Care Counts program running. Within minutes, the Republicans in the Senate and Assembly gaveled the session in and out without taking action. Instead, the Assembly suggested Senate Bill 1 (SB-1) to “create loans for providers, lower the age for workers and increase the number of children per worker.” At a Sept. 25 meeting, the Wisconsin County Association (WCA) expressed concern regarding the “widespread loss of childcare throughout the state,” and whether the proposed SB-1 would resolve the crisis created by the elimination of funding. 

SB-1 will almost certainly compound the childcare crisis in Northeastern Wisconsin in non-metro areas where the number of children per worker has already increased by 31% since 2021, and childcare workers have declined 26% since 2010 (from Forward Analytics, a Wisconsin-based research organization, Priced Out: The Steep Cost of Childcare in Wisconsin). It ignores the situation of in-home  providers who are already maxed out financially; families that are currently paying 18 to 36% of their income on childcare, and centers trying to provide quality care for children via restricted numbers per worker. 

Help support improved wages and benefits – not loans – and funding for families that can’t afford to pay! If not, families will choose to remain on the sidelines of the labor force, and childcare workers will continue to seek higher paying jobs. Contact our state Rep. Joel Kitchens and state Sen. André Jacque to indicate your support for increased funding for the Child Care Counts program set to expire in January 2024.

Sherry Mutchler

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin