It’s no secret that there is a childcare crisis, both here in the Fox Cities and nationwide. The Council for a Strong America estimates it already costs Wisconsin families, businesses, and governments a combined $1.9 billion every year. Nearly nine in 10 working parents say childcare costs them time and productivity at work, which may mean more work for others or jobs that don’t get done.
A recent survey conducted by the Fox Cities Chamber Regional Partnership, our economic development arm, indicated that childcare is the second biggest issue local employers are facing right now, with talent retention / attraction as number one. No doubt these two are closely related.
Another poll we conducted in our Chamber weekly newsletter asked employers whether or not they offer a stipend to help employees cover childcare costs. Twenty-five percent indicated they do; another 12% are considering it; while 24% help their employees with childcare in other ways.
A strong early care and education system is a win for families in the Fox Valley and across Wisconsin. But the shortage of childcare is also keeping many parents at home to care for their children, which contributes to the worker shortage in our state. Lack of affordable childcare means children, families, and businesses suffer.
All parties continue to search for solutions; however, there is not just one magic bullet. Together we’ll continue to work on solutions to end this crisis. To start, here are a couple things going on in the Fox Cities:
- The Fox Cities Chamber is partnering with Child Care Resource & Referral to hold a seminar on how to start a child care business tonight (July 20, 2023). Register at Starting Your Child Care Business Information Session – Jul 20, 2023 – Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce—both virtual and in-person options available. If interested but unable to attend, reach out to CCR&R for child care center startup information and other resources CCRR – CCRR (ccrrfoxvalley.org).
- Calumet County has received a Dream Up! grant, allowing them to help support childcare services in the area, and they want to hear from you – if you have ideas, input, or questions about how they should use this grant to best serve Calumet County, Eric Broten, the Chamber’s Director of Economic Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the Dream Up! grant here: https://bit.ly/44C2qdu.
- Outagamie County is currently accepting grant funding requests for the creation of a Shared Services Program for childcare and early learning providers. A Shared Service Program is a hub for organizations such as center-based and home-based child care providers. The hub pools their members’ resources together and outsources basic business operations so their members save money. Savings could be used by members to increase workforce wages or build financial capacity. Applications are due on August 17, 2023 at noon. For more information visit https://www.outagamie.org/government/departments-a-e/development-land-services/community-economic-development/child-care-shared-services-grant
- Another great article on the childcare issue can be found at Child Care: Not Just A Women’s Issue, An Economic Issue (forbes.com)
By Laura Wiegert, EVP Marketing & Events, Fox Cities Chamber