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Dane County to fund $3.5 million grant program for child care providers

Dane County to fund $3.5 million grant program for child care providers

Distance Learning

In his home play room March 22, McFarland 4K student Beck Machacek builds a toy train track while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisis announced Thursday a $3.5 million grant program for licensed child care providers that are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic.   

The funding is meant to offset revenue losses incurred by child care centers closing during the public health crisis and, hopefully, help them survive the economic downturn. 

“This funding will provide a much-needed boost to child care providers, which are so critical as conversations progress about slowly and safely opening our community back up,” Parisi said in a statement Thursday. “Any sustainable re-opening strategy will need child care as parents and guardians go back to work.”

The funding for the grant program is part of the $95 million the county received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Dane County Board of Supervisors Chair Analiese Eicher said the county has been “very conscious of needs” in the community when distributing CARES funding. 

“One of the cornerstones of us being able to function and go back to work is childcare, and so we want to make sure that those folks are supported,” Eicher said.  

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A resolution to approve the new grant program will be introduced at the Dane County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Thursday at 7 p.m

The county is partnering with Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc., also known as 4-C, to administer the grants to roughly 500 Dane County child care providers. Grant amounts will vary based on the size of the provider from a minimum of $1,400 to a maximum of $15,000.  

Eligible child care providers include certified family, licensed family, licensed group, summer camp, and licensed school age. Child care providers with questions can email 4-C at providercarepayments@4-c.org.

Child care providers face financial hurdles

Locally, 78% of family child care programs are still open, and 35% of group child care programs remain in operation. These facilities could be at risk of not making it through the pandemic, according to study conducted by the Center for American Progress

The independent nonpartisan policy institute found that without financial assistance, roughly half of child care capacity in the United States is at risk of disappearing. The study also estimates that Wisconsin could see about 30% of its child care lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jody Bartnick, executive director of Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc., said the additional funding will support child care programs and their ability to sustain or reopen. 4-C is part of a network of accredited, non-profit Wisconsin Child Care Resource & Referral agencies providing advocacy and support services for child care in 11 Wisconsin counties. 

“4-C is proud to partner with Dane County to support the critical work of the early care and education community,” Bartnick said in the statement. “Access to quality early childhood is essential for our communities’ workforce.” 

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