The Growing Tree is a child care center in New Glarus that was started 10 years ago by co-owner Brooke Skidmore, who said the business has “ always struggled to find and retain qualified teachers because we cannot pay them what they really need.”
Wisconsin child care providers like Skidmore say they had come to rely on Child Care Counts, a federally funded state program that helped them avoid closing down, improve pay and keep costs down for parents. But now that the state Legislature rejected Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to keep funding the program after the federal aid expires this year, they face even bigger financial dilemmas. Many of the state’s centers expect to shut down altogether, and others will need to charge more for each child they take in.
In his 2023-2025 budget, Evers allocated $340 million for a permanent Child Care Counts program, but Republicans on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee removed the funding. Instead, Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, said financial support for child care providers would be in the form of a $15 million Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. revolving loan fund under the Legislature’s budget.
Evers used his partial veto power before signing the budget on Wednesday to recategorize the $15 million as grants, not loans.
[Adapted from: Child care dilemma squeezes Wisconsin workers, parents. Jul. 9, 2023, Capital Times]