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State seeking hazard pay for child care workers, asking educators to work in child care
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State seeking hazard pay for child care workers, asking educators to work in child care

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The Department of Children and Families is coordinating efforts to find child care for families of workers providing vital service to the state’s COVID-19 response. Child care availability remains one of the top concerns when keeping health providers and essential employees at work, according to a release from DCF.

To address some of these gaps, DCF has sought hazard pay funding for child care workers who are still on the job and asked educators to volunteer in child care settings.

Last week, DCF worked with the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Department of Health Services to administer a survey of health care employees to gauge need. At the same time, the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, Supporting Families Together Association, and the Registry assessed the capacity of providers to care for new children during the crisis. Over the past 48 hours, work began on matching supply and demand to make sure health care workers are able to find the child care they need.

“In a short order, our partners and agency staff were able to come together around a solution to address the child care needs of health care workers across Wisconsin,” said DCF Secretary Emilie Amundson. “Over the coming days, we will continue to work on ways we can help other essential workers find care.”

DCF continues to work with WHA and DHS to develop a model for on-site care at the state’s hospital and health care facilities. The department is working with the Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs to explore similar options throughout the state near hospitals and sites with large numbers of essential staff.

“I continue to be amazed by the generosity and good-will of the people in Wisconsin,” Amundson said. “As we identify needs, people are raising their hands to help. This is especially true for the many child care providers who stayed open, adapted to more rigid rules to keep kids healthy and safe, and agreed to take new kids during this challenging period.”

Child care providers were asked to reduce their footprint to settings with no more than 10 staff and no more than 50 children present to reduce the risk of COVD-19 spread. Like many states, Wisconsin was already facing a shortage of child care availability in many parts of the state. 

“I want to be clear: child care workers are essential staff themselves,” Amundson said. “And we need to do whatever we can to support them. If you have the luxury of keeping your kids at home with you, I am asking that you strongly consider doing so.”

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