A severe childcare shortage is affecting Dodge County in Wisconsin. Some practitioners are telling parents that if they don’t line up child care immediately after finding out they are pregnant, it might not be available when the time comes.
“I know there is help wanted everywhere, but it is a specific skill set needed here,” Community Care Preschool and Childcare Administrator Renae Henning told Wisc News. “It matters where your children spend their early years and what they are doing.”
Henning attributed the shortage to a lack of workers as well as closures of childcare facilities in the last couple of years.
The Wisconsin Early Childhood Association reported that during the first year of COVID, 15% of Wisconsin early childcare centers closed, which translates to childcare for about 25,000 children.
Waupun City Administrator Kathy Schlieve told Wisc News that COVID complicated an already strained childcare system and she shared that public officials in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties are working to help solve the problem.
“COVID-19 really magnified the issue of available childcare options in our community, and frankly across the region,” Schlieve said. “Prior to COVID, locally we had been working with Wee Care, one of our daycare providers, to try and expand their facility to address a growing wait list that they have (continue to have). In 2021, a second daycare in town, Little Sprouts, closed, creating an even wider gap in available resources.”
Wisconsin officials are attempting to help provide funding and learn how to best expand the capacity of childcare centers. “We have since been trying to frame up solutions to pursue funding through various grant programs to address known issues,” Schlieve told Wisc News. “To strengthen our applications for state and federal grants, we need to quantify the need in our counties.”
The Duluth News Tribune called the childcare shortage part of “The Great Resignation,” which created “a seismic upheaval in the workforce that is reshaping today’s economy” saying that the labor shortages are impacting every industry.
The repercussions of COVID are not localized in Wisconsin, but have impacted childcare facilities throughout the United States. A survey conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children predicted that up to 80% of childcare centers would be permanently closed due to the impacts of COVID.
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