OP-ED: As Child Care Cliff Looms, Democrats Seek Solutions While Republicans Abandon Action

Most of us can agree that no family should have to bust their budget to afford child care that fits their needs, and that those in the child care workforce deserve job security and fair wages.

But now that GOP politicians have ended pandemic-era federal funding support for child care, starting Sept. 30 Wisconsin will face a cliff that is estimated to cause over 85,000 children to lose their child care, nearly 5,000 care workers to lose their jobs, and over 2,000 local child care businesses to close their doors.

Pandemic-related federal child care funds were a temporary solution to a long-term problem, and that’s why earlier this month Governor Tony Evers called a special session of the Wisconsin state legislature to invest $340 million in permanent child care funding for Wisconsin families and the local child care workforce.

However, Republican legislators spent less than one minute of their time at the special session – gaveling in and out within seconds and refusing to act on what for many Wisconsin families is a dire situation. Instead of investing in the essential resources proposed by Gov. Evers, state Republicans have put forth legislation that would only lower safety and quality standards for child care providers.

Wisconsinites don’t need or want lower standards, they need a permanent solution to a child care crisis that has been weighing on working families for years.

A strong workforce bolsters a strong economy, but without a permanent solution to the child care crisis, thousands of people will be forced to drop out of Wisconsin’s workforce.

Amid lack of action from Republicans, Democratic Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin is making an effort to find a solution that lasts. This Fall, Sen. Baldwin helped introduce the Child Care Stabilization Act – a bill that would prevent the impending child care cliff and prevent thousands of families from losing their child care, losing their incomes, and losing their businesses.

When working parents can access affordable child care and local facilities can stay in business, the whole economy thrives – jobs are created, wages go up, and families have more financial stability to invest back into their local communities.

You can contact your state representatives at 1-800-362-9472, and your federal representatives at 202-224-3121, to demand they stabilize the child care industry with long-term solutions.

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A Better Wisconsin Together is a state-based research and communications hub for progressives and is an affiliate of ProgressNow.