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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Racine County Circuit Court limits in-person access
RACINE COUNTY — The Racine County Circuit Court announced Thursday that they have limited in-person access at the Racine County Courthouse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Racine County buildings will remain open to provide certain essential services, but access to buildings and in-person services will be limited.
Court filing will continue to be processed in all cases by the Wisconsin Courts' eFiling System and by mail; however, the clerks' service counters will be closed.
Paper documents will not be accepted in person. Instead, visitors may file documents using the blue drop box located at the Clerk of Circuit Court's Office on the eighth floor of the Racine County Courthouse, 730 Wisconsin Ave., until further order of the court.
Payments will be processed using Wisconsin Courts' payment system at www.wicourts.gov. Payments by check or money order will be accepted by mail or in the Clerk's Office drop box. Cash payments will not be submitted during this period.
Other court changes
Earlier this week, the Racine County Circuit Court announced other changes made the court system during the coronavirus outbreak.
- No jury duty until April 12.
- Injunction hearings, criminal preliminary hearings and mental commitment hearings should be presumed to be proceeding as originally scheduled unless parties are told otherwise.
- Civil, small claims and family cases requiring in-person appearances, including jury trials, civil court trials, small claims, contested custody and placement hearing, any hearing where evidence will be taken by other than telephonic means are suspended until April 12.
- Any civil, small claims or family case that can be done by phone will proceed as scheduled.
- Domestic violation, child abuse and harassment injunctions will be heard as scheduled in person or by phone.
- Courthouse weddings are cancelled until April 12.
- No jury trials will be held until April 12 or until further order of the court. Everything set before then is rescheduled.
- Phone or video conferencing will be used for non-evidentiary hearings.
- All proceedings involving out-of-custody defendants are canceled until after April 12. In-custody hearings will be proceed as scheduled, at the discretion of the judge.
- Individuals who post bails or are released from the jail and ordered into out-of-custody intake can be ordered in any time after April 13.
- No preliminary hearings will be held for out-of-custody defendants until after April 12. In-custody preliminary hearings will proceed scheduled.
- Court clerks will provide new hearing dates for re-scheduled hearings to both in-custody and out-of-custody defendants.
- All forfeiture cases, including traffic matters, are rescheduled until after April 12.
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