Child Care Task Force
The Fond du Lac County Child Care Task Force was created to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the child care shortage and barriers to work in Fond du Lac County.
In an effort to support workforce development efforts in Fond du Lac County, the Fond du Lac County Child Care Taskforce was developed in early 2023. This taskforce includes child care experts, representatives from businesses, SSM Health, community organizations, and nonprofits. The taskforce has divided into subcommittees to focus on four areas: 1) recruitment and retention, 2) advocacy, 3) start-up assistance, and 4) employer-supported solutions.
One of the first goals of the Fond du Lac County Child Care Taskforce is to better engage our business community and advocate both the problem and solutions to our state elected officials.
Fond du Lac County has averaged 30-35 licensed or certified child care facilities over the past several years. These facilities accommodate a total of 1,996 kids. There are 5,615 children in the county. Only 1 in 5 parents stay at home. Our demand is around 4,000, double that of our supply at just under 2,000. According to The Institute for a Competitive Workforce, lack of child care is one of the top 5 challenges for working women.
In Fond du Lac County there are currently 580 women out of the labor force right now. According to Zippia, 20% of nonworking women would re-enter the workforce if child care was available. This equates to 116 women in Fond du Lac County who could re-enter the workforce and increase our county’s labor force participation rate.
In 2022, Envision Greater Fond du Lac contracted with UWO’s Center for Customized Research & Services to deploy a survey to the top 30 employers in Fond du Lac County.
- 26% cited limited availability of other providers offering services at the needed times and days; services not available in rural areas, and limited capacity at existing facilities.
- 21% responded that cost is a reason for gaps in care.
Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) deployed a survey to 147 unique childcare facilities in the same five counties, receiving 35 responses.
- The majority are facing overall staff shortages.
- 12 programs indicated they are struggling to hire qualified staff that meet minimum state requirements.
- Staff burnout is high and competition from other industries makes it difficult to retain staff.
- 20 programs are not operating at full capacity.
According to telephone interviews conducted by EGFDL, all facilities had waitlists of at least 30-50 with several having waitlists of 60-95. These same facilities couldn’t operate at full capacity due to staff shortages.
Child care is not a family issue, it is a business issue. It affects how we work, when we work, and why we work. The child care industry has been on the decline for the past decade, however, it was exacerbated by the pandemic. Lack of adequate child care is a barrier for many parents, particularly women, to participate in the workforce. Inadequate child care also accounts for an average of 8 hours lost per week.
As business and economic development leaders, we cannot remain on the sidelines of this crisis any longer. Without accessible, high-quality, and affordable child care, attracting and retaining employees will remain our number one workforce issue. We, therefore, ask you to advance a significant long-term state investment in child care in the 2023-2025 state budget.
Child care programs operate on razor-thin margins. Their budgets depend on parent fees, which, despite being costly to families, do not cover the full cost of programs providing high-quality care. The federal and state funding during the pandemic provided relief to keep current child care programs open. However, the federal relief did not, and was not, intended to address the flaws of the existing system. Most child care programs are still struggling and remain at a critical breaking point. If the Child Care Counts Stabilization payments end, Fond du Lac County child care providers will need to raise their weekly rates by an average of 30%. As it is now, child care often takes up to 1/3 of a family’s annual income. Many child care centers anticipate either closing, losing families who simply cannot afford the tuition, or losing quality employees who cannot work for lower wages. Currently over 50% of Wisconsin is in a child care desert, where there is one slot available for every three children under the age of 5. We cannot allow this situation to worsen.
A significant state investment in high-quality child care will deliver a 13% per annum return on investment according to “The Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program” from The Heckman Equation. This rate is substantially higher than the 7-10% return previously established for preschool programs.
Fond du Lac County families need access to high-quality, affordable child care to participate in the workforce. Our businesses need a stable workforce to operate.
Members of the task force represent business, non-profit, and community organizations; child care providers; and local government. Those businesses represented on this task force come from:
- Boys and Girls Club
- City of Fond du Lac
- City of Ripon
- City of Waupun
- Fond du Lac Area Foundation
- Fond du Lac County
- Fond du Lac Family YMCA
- Fond du Lac School District
- Fox Valley Workforce Development
- Grande Cheese
- Lily Pad Learning Center
- Local government (State Representative & State Senator)
- Moraine Park Technical College
- New North
- Ripon Chamber of Commerce
- SSM Health
- United Way Fond du Lac
- Wee Care Child Center
- Weyauwega Star Dairy Inc / Knaus Cheese Inc
To learn more, read our latest news release.