Governor Tony Evers, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), today announced that the State of Wisconsin has received a competitive $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to go to DWD to help to strengthen the early childhood education workforce and stimulate access to and improve the sustainability of quality and affordable child care and early childhood education services for working families.
“Increasing access to quality, affordable childcare and early childhood education is one of the best ways to do what’s best for our children, to support families Wisconsin workers and reduce barriers for people who want to join our state’s workforce, all at the same time,” Governor Evers said. “Whether it’s helping people to find meaningful careers in the child care and early childhood education sectors, to improve outcomes for our children in our schools, to support the professional development of child care providers children of Wisconsin or strengthen worker-employer relationships, this grant funding will positively affect the children, families, and communities of our state.
The grant recognizes the significant challenges Wisconsin residents face in obtaining accessible, affordable, and high-quality child care to support their entry and retention in the workforce. The grant, known as the Quality Jobs, Equity, Strategy, and Training (QUEST) Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant (DWG), will leverage partnerships between the Department of Children and Families (DCF), Wisconsin Community Action Program Association , Wisconsin’s 11 local Workforce Development Councils and other strategic partners to achieve these results.
“Access to affordable, quality child care is vital to labor market participation and community well-being,” said DWD Secretary-designate Amy Pechacek. “This grant will go a long way to strengthening our child care system by providing training for individuals to become licensed and certified child care professionals, ensuring that more child care professionals earn family-supporting salaries and opening the door to business ownership for more caregivers. The grant will also encourage employers to adopt practices that support working parents.
“The pervasive challenges parents face in finding affordable, quality care are complex but solvable,” said DCF Secretary Emilie Amundson. “Through cross-sectoral solutions involving families, business leaders, child care professionals and policy makers, we can develop an early care and education system that meets the needs of all Wisconsin families. . We appreciate the Department of Workforce Development and the many other partners who come to the table and help us better support our communities and the economy.
Although operational details are still being finalized, in general, QUEST DWG funding will support the following activities:
- Provide employment, training and support services to 500 unemployed and underemployed people seeking employment in childcare/education;
- Establish disaster relief employment opportunities with existing child care providers to immediately expand access to high-quality, affordable child care for Wisconsin workers , including care during non-traditional opening hours;
- Develop the Partner Up program! from DCF! program, which engages employers to purchase slots from existing regulated child care providers;
- Employ and train additional staff to help existing and potential child care businesses navigate the state licensing, certification, and rating process. These staff will also help centers maximize cost reimbursement grant programs, connect with grant participants to fill vacancies, and navigate continuing education and professional development opportunities for staff;
- Provide entrepreneurial skills training and micro-enterprise development services to those interested in owning childcare businesses; and
- Develop and deliver training to companies on developing inclusive work practices for working parents and other marginalized populations.