Senate Committee Hearing: Children, Families, and the WI State Budget

The Joint Finance Committee held the last of its seven public hearings on the state budget last week. If you missed your chance to voice your opinion, another hearing was recently announced. The WI Senate’s Committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development will be holding a public hearing to discuss the sections in the budget related to child welfare, foster care, the W-2 program, childcare and child support. The committee is interested in learning about how these portions of the budget will potentially impact children and families in Wisconsin. The hearing will be held at the State Capitol on Wednesday April 15th at 10:00 am in room 201 Southeast. You can comment on the state budget by signing in support for adequate early education funding, giving a testimonial/speech, or providing written comments to the committee.

So what exactly is in the budget for the Department of Children and Families? Here are some key findings:

• The Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program will be funded at $375,736,400 per year in fiscal years 2010 and 2011
• Several cost containment measures are proposed to reduce spending in the Wisconsin Shares program. This includes increasing copayments for parents, freezing child care provider reimbursement rates, implementing a waiting list for recipients, including child support payments when determining income eligibility for the program, and distributing reimbursements to providers based on attendance
• In reaction to fraudulent behavior in the Wisconsin Shares program, the Governor has proposed several initiatives including using an electronic swipe card system to monitor attendance and the creation of a 5 person integrity unit to monitor/investigate fraud
• $1,018,400 in fiscal year 2010 and $1,727,300 in fiscal year 2011 will be allocated to establish a Quality Rating System
• At least $3,457,000 will be provided annually for the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® WISCONSIN scholarship program and the R.E.W.A.R.D.™ WISCONSIN stipend program (neither an increase nor a decrease in funding from the 2007-2009 budget)
• There is an increase in licensing fees from $10.33 per child to $16.94 per child (for group centers that provide care for nine or more children). All other licensing fees remain the same

To view the complete summary of the Department of Children and Families 2009-2011 budget click here.

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