MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced Sept. 3 an additional $30 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act dollars are being directed toward supporting early care and education providers. The additional funds will allow the Department of Children and Families to conduct an additional round of Child Care Counts payments.
Access to safe, affordable, quality child care has risen to the forefront for Wisconsin families as school begins. At the height of the public health emergency, just under 40% of child care providers, 1,729 of 4,444 providers open on Jan. 1, closed their doors. That number has decreased to just over 12% of providers remaining closed, 538 providers, as of Aug. 27. The Wisconsin Tomorrow plan, authored by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, also highlighted the importance of early care and education to the state’s economy. The Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Supplementary Payment Program is designed to help counter those trends. The additional round will of funding will be distributed through two new programs. Applications and program eligibility details will be available Sept. 9 on DCF’s website, with the application window closing Sept. 18 at 11:59 p.m. Payment notifications will be issued on Sept. 26.
Individual payment programs are:
Providing safe, healthy, and high-quality child care opportunities
The program is intended to support the costs of maintaining or enhancing compliance status, quality level YoungStar rating and increasing health and safety practices. Funds will help ensure care is available across state, specifically at younger ages.
Funding staff recruitment and retention efforts
As providers move back to regular operations, many have struggled to bring back staff due to depressed wages. This program is designed to support the costs associated with recruiting and retaining high-quality staff.
The State Emergency Operation Center has made personal protective equipment available for providers statewide. DCF is finalizing a survey that will be distributed to all regulated providers with information about how PPE can be accessed and distributed within the week.