Childcare centers say state program helps lower costs to families. Gov. Evers wants it renewed.
There is a nearly 800-child gap for childcare in Oneida County.
Families are sometimes waiting years for a spot to open up. Once they do get a spot, it can be unaffordable for some families.
Linda May is the CEO of the YMCA of the Northwoods. She says this issue is not unique to Oneida County.
“I will tell you that I’m approached by rural communities since I’ve been here and they are looking for the Y to come in and open child care centers and support the gap. It stops workers from working. When you create high prices, when a large percentage of income is based in childcare, you’re asking a parent to stay at home,” said May.
May says Wisconsin’s Child Care Counts program has helped keep costs down for families.
At the same time, it’s helped pay childcare employees better so they stick around.
“We’ve been able to keep price increases at bay and we’ve been able to offer our staff full benefits because of that support. Now when that departs in January we are saying to our parents, ‘You have to pick up the full burden’ They’re already experiencing 20-30% of their income on childcare which in unconscionable,” said May.
Governor Evers wants to see the program renewed.
He toured the YMCA of the Northwoods Tuesday as he called for a special legislative session next month to invest $365 million to support childcare in the state.
“A lot of this is politics, but I do know Republicans care about having a good workforce, an available workforce. This will be something that if we don’t do it right, we will have fewer people and our economy will suffer,” said Evers.
The bill the Governor wants the legislature to consider also includes paid family and medical leave, higher education funding for the UW System, and increased funding for workforce programs.
Republicans who control the Legislature said they opposed his plan because it would increase government spending rather than cut taxes.
Evers argues that the $1 billion he’s asking for still leaves plenty of funds in the state’s $4 billion dollar surplus.
Evers has called special sessions in the past for other issues.
Republicans have ignored them and gaveled in and out without any debate on the topics.