- Hilary Shager, Liesl Hostetter, and Zachary Bauer
- March 2023
- Link to Child-Care-Counts-Stabilization-Final-Report (PDF)
An extensive body of research suggests that high quality child care and early education experiences can make a difference in children’s developmental trajectories (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2007), and access to high-quality, affordable care is a crucial service needed for the success of working caregivers and state employers. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many Wisconsin families did not have access to or could not afford such services, and low wages and slim profit margins made it difficult for providers to thrive. The pandemic exacerbated existing challenges for many families and put tremendous strain on an already fragile child care sector (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2021). In response to these tremendous challenges, the State of Wisconsin developed the Child Care Counts (CCC) Program—approved by the Joint Committee on Finance and implemented by the Wisconsin Department of Children & Families (DCF)—to allocate federal COVID relief funding to child care providers. The program, which began in March 2020, and is approved to run in various versions through 2023, distributes funding to child care providers to help them stay open, retain and recruit staff, and provide high quality care to children. Round 1 of the most recent version, the Child Care Counts Stabilization Payment Program (CCC Stabilization), funded via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act) (Pub. Law 117-2), which ran from November 2021, through July 2022, distributed $181,302,865 to 3,964 eligible Wisconsin child care providers via two programs (WI Department of Children & Families, n.d.-c). Program A focused on “increasing access to high quality care,” and Program B focused on “funding workforce recruitment and retention” (WI Department of Children & Families, n.d.-d).