The roll of child care centers in economic recovery

Posted at 1:29 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 14:29:13-04

BELLEVUE (NBC 26) -- As families have returned to the Bellevue Kindercare, so has the excitement.

“It’s really, really been great," center director Stacey Wojcik said. “We’re trending just about where we were prior to the pandemic starting with lots of safety precautions put in place.”

Among the precautions are temperature checks for kids, questions for parents, teachers wearing masks, and social distancing in the classrooms. Families are now grouped in the same classroom.

“That way if there is one family that comes down as positive, it’s only going to impact that one classroom and not the entire center," Wojcik said.

Those precautions help keep students and staff safe, and that serves another purpose. Parents can then feel more comfortable about dropping kids off and returning to work. State child care leaders said child care centers are a crucial part of the state's economic recovery. They said now is the time to invest.

“Centers have been under-enrolled, they have additional cleaning protocols and additional protocols that have driven up costs," Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson said. Obviously, parents haven’t been sending their children, so there are a lot of costs that have been incurred.”

The federal CARES Act provided about $51 million for child care centers in Wisconsin. The state has distributed about $41 million of that.

“Frankly we need more," Amundson said. "We need more support from the federal level, we need more support from the state level.”

Amundson said it's important for the business community and government to work with child care centers as they strategize what the Wisconsin's economic recovery might look like. She said additional support will help both the system and the state.