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GOP lawmakers introduce child care bills – Dems say it’s not enough

August 31, 2023 2:17 PM

By: Nate Wegehaupt

The bills would largely cut regulations around child care centers across the state, which Democrats say would decrease the quality of care.

MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – Republican state lawmakers have introduced a set of bills looking to address the child care crisis in Wisconsin. The six bills would cut regulations surrounding child care centers in Wisconsin, and would create a loan program for child care centers to borrow up to $100,000 for renovations.

In a press release about the “Choices in Childcare” bill package, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos pointed to the over $900 a month it costs to put a child through full time childcare. “Parents deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money, and make choices that best suit their children’s needs,” Vos said.

One bill would lower the age that someone needs to be to work as an assistant child care teacher to 16 years old. Currently, you have to be either 17 or 18, depending on your qualifications. That bill would also remove the time limits that assistant teachers can spend alone with a child.

Another bill would raise the maximum allowed ratio of children to child care workers.

But Democrats say that the bill package is not enough.

A spokesperson for Governor Evers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the bills would reduce the quality of care at child care centers, and provide no immediate help to making child care more affordable. 

Governor Evers has repeatedly called to extend the federal Child Care Counts program. That program sends federal money directly to child care centers, and was created during the COVID pandemic. But those funds are set to run out next year, and a quarter of Wisconsin child care providers say that, without that money, they will be forced to close.

Evers has called for a special session next month to use $365 million of the state’s $7 billion surplus to continue funding the Child Care Counts program. That special session is set for September 20, and Republicans are expected to gavel in the session, and gavel right out without taking action. 

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