72% choose fully licensed child care
The Department of Workforce Development announced that it would make new outreach efforts to make child care available to ALL working families not just those leaving welfare.
Wisconsins child care subsidies are for "families who have always worked for a living but are struggling to make ends meet," said Linda Stewart, Department Secretary.
Stewart said the states local W-2 agencies have done a good job of making participants leaving welfare aware of the child care help that is available. "Now we have to make working people who have never been onwelfare aware that they can get help with their child care costs."
"Wisconsins child care is a real bargain," Stewart said. She noted that the parent who makes a co-payment of $69 a month for her two children can get over $900 worth of services.
Wisconsin is helping more families purchase child care than ever before; nearly 20,000 children were being served as of December. Contrary topredictions, child care "slots" have not been overwhelmed by the advent of Wisconsin Works, Stewart noted.
Anyone whose annual family income falls within 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($26,650 a year for a family of three) can receive generous child care subsidies after first qualifying at 165 percent of poverty (or $22,000). No one eligible for subsidies will pay more than 16 percent of his or her income. It is available for as long as families need it, without time limit.
The outreach to the working poor is part of a three-point directive from Gov. Tommy G. Thompson. Thompson also directed the Department to step up safety assurances for the small, certified child care settings, which are not licensed by the state. As he promised in his State of the State address, funding will be set aside to cover site visits and training materials, including videotapes, and smoke detectors, first aid kits, childrens books, and other materials to improve the quality of care in these settings.
Thirdly, the Governor asked state child care officials to work with other state agencies and employers groups through the states 74 Job Centers to encourage more on-site and employer-sponsored child care, including third shift child care.
Employers can attract and retain workers by making child care more convenient. The state is making grants available for employer-sponsored child care, Head Start wrap-around care, school-linked care for teen parents, and other worthy programs.
Wisconsins state budget sets aside record amounts for child care: $160 million in the current fiscal year and $180 million next year.
Most choose fully licensed
Nearly three-fourths of the families availing themselves of Wisconsins child care subsidies 72 percent, to be exact are choosing fully licensed child care. Only 7 percent chose provisionally certified care, which allows providers to care for no more than three unrelated children.
Stewart explained that Wisconsins program of Child Care Subsidies for Working Families structures co-payments so that cost is not an obstacle to choosing the type of child care that makes the most sense to parents. The cost differential between fully licensed and certified care for a family at the federal poverty line is only $8 a week for two children.
Families looking for child care help can find their nearest Job Center by calling toll-free 888/258-9966.