EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – More than 500 million dollars is coming to Wisconsin as part of the American Rescue Plan. Its goal, to help meet the needs of childcare providers across the state.
First News at Nine’s Maria Blough spoke with some childcare providers about the pandemic’s impact.
With more people working remotely during the pandemic, Nicole Saastad, the director of The Learning Tree Child Care Center in Eau Claire, says the demand for child care remains high.
“There are still people working, and even when you’re working from home, you can’t keep your kids at home, so parents need childcare because they–it’d be difficult to work from home with young kids there,” Saastad said.
Saastad said they’ve remained open throughout the pandemic–adjusting to the changing rules and guidelines to keep children safe.
Previous rounds of grant money helped the center stay open.
“With that, we are able to buy PPE, and make sure we are stocked up with that, and we are able to upgrade our cleaning system so that we can make sure it is a safe environment–we have a new cleaning product we’re using that’s safe for kids,” Saastad said.
Not all child care providers in the state were able to keep their doors open during the pandemic.
“A lot of programs that have had to shut down just don’t have the funds to re-open, and then the extra sanitation and all of the extra things that you know, we’ve had to do,” said Holly Hale with the Wisconsin Family Child Care Association–a group that works to help child care providers.
Hale also runs her own child care center called Holly’s Little Red Wagon Childcare. She said the child care industry was in trouble even before the pandemic.
One of the main problems: staffing. Many child care providers can’t afford competitive pay rates to get qualified employees.
Both Hale and Saastad are hopeful this additional federal funding will help.
In Eau Claire Maria Blough First News at Nine.
The funding for child care through the American Rescue Plan will help both providers and families. Part of the money will help providers reopen and stay open. Another portion is going to make child care accessible and affordable for more families.
To read more about the funding for child care, click HERE.