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What does the end of Child Care Counts funding mean for working families?

April 26

teacher looking over shoulder of boy reading a bookChild Care Counts was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to financially support child care businesses in the state of Wisconsin. Essentially, Child Care Counts allowed many child care businesses to keep their doors open and provide necessary care that working families needed and continue to need. More than 4,000 businesses have received funding from this program, including Wisconsin Youth Company, according to the Department of Children and Families. In only seven months, that funding will end. In fact, DCF announced last week that Child Care Counts funding will start decreasing in May, seven months earlier than expected.

Child Care Counts helped businesses like Wisconsin Youth Company raise wages to be competitive in the job market, offer recruitment and retention bonuses to keep current staff and attract new staff, and pay for recruitment tools to help reach the right candidates. If the Child Care Counts program stops as scheduled in January 2024, child care businesses will have two choices: raise fees or close doors. Wisconsin Youth Company will need to raise program fees by 22 percent to continue operations at its current level — a record increase in the organization’s nearly 50 years of operation. Many families will not be able to afford this drastic increase.

Wisconsin Youth Company operates 38 programs that provide safe, quality, and fun spaces for children outside the school day. This ranges from 4K wrap programs to before and after school, summer camps, and more. In a 2021 report by the Council For A Strong America, four out of five parents said they were already negatively impacted at work by child care issues. This will likely increase as funding for these businesses ends.

The elimination of Child Care Counts funding will have long-lasting damaging effects on the Wisconsin economy. Contact your legislator today to share the impact Child Care Counts funding has on you, your family, and your community.