© 2024 WXPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Northwoods childcare centers set to raise rates without Childcare Counts program

Colleen Macleod reads to children at Pairc Playgroup in South Lochs.
Celeste Noche
Colleen Macleod reads to children at Pairc Playgroup in South Lochs.

Childcare centers have struggled in the wake of COVID.

In June, Wisconsin lawmakers on the GOP-controlled finance committee cut Childcare Counts.

It’s a statewide program to allocate federal COVID relief funding to child care providers.

Governor Evers wanted it renewed with state funds.

Teri Mason is the owner and administrator of Northwoods Child Development Center in Eagle River.

The Child Care Counts program helped the center make sure staff and utilities bills were paid, purchase additional equipment for the kids, and even lowered rates for parents.

“They started giving funds to help keep daycare childcare centers afloat. When the pandemic hit, in March of that famous year, we went from 131 kids between my two sites to 2. And it was hard. We've kept using the Child Care Counts to keep us up and running so that we could continue to meet the needs of our community,” she said.

Her center, as well as a coalition of daycares across the Northwoods, have decided to raise rates come September.

A Wisconsin Early Childhood Association study found that 86% of program directors and owners were considering increasing parent fees after losing Childcare Counts funding.

32% are considering closing altogether.

With more expensive childcare, parents tend to rely on family members.

They may even need to take time off work to look after their children, which sends ripples through the economy.

“I think that the state of Wisconsin needs to understand that we, as an industry, are not just babysitters. We are early care and early education programs. Yes, it's childcare for the kids and for the families, but we go beyond just babysitting,” said Mason.

Governor Evers has called a special session on childcare funding for September 20.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
Up North Updates
* indicates required
Related Content