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Additional CARES Act funds given for childcare

An additional $30 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) dollars, are directed toward supporting early care and education providers. The additional funds will allow the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to conduct an additional round of Child Care Counts payments.

“As I’ve said before, what’s best for our kids, is what’s best for our state,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “Our early care educators stepped up in a big way for Wisconsin families – and their kids – to help keep our state’s economy strong during the pandemic. Frankly, our state needs them now more than ever. These funds are a recognition of the vital role they play in our communities.”

Access to safe, affordable, quality childcare, has risen to the forefront for Wisconsin families, as the new school year begins. Yet, the early care and education sector is still reeling from the impact of COVID-19.

At the height of the public health emergency, just under 40 percent of child90\care providers (1,729 of 4,444 providers open Jan. 1) closed their doors. That number has decreased to just over 12 percent of providers remaining closed (538 providers) as of Aug. 27.

The Wisconsin Tomorrow plan, authored by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), also highlighted the importance of early care and education to the state’s economy. The report notes the role access to early care and education plays in returning everyone, but especially women, to the workforce.

“Wisconsin families rely on access to childcare in order to stay employed,” said DCF secretary Emilie Amundson. “That is especially true for women, who still carry a disproportionate burden raising children. The additional funding the state is providing to early care and education, will help to stabilize the industry, and ensure families have safe and reliable options for care.”

The Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Supplementary Payment Program is designed to help counter those trends. The additional round of funding will be distributed through two, new programs targeted at the current challenges early care and education providers are facing.

Applications and program eligibility details will be available starting Sept. 9, , on the DCF’s website, with the application window closing Sept. 18, at 11:59 p.m. Payment notifications will be issued Sept. 26.