Two weeks ago, USA Today featured an article discussing the negative impact that early education budget cuts are having on families and children across the nation. In it the author Marisol Bello states, “as budget problems worsen, states are tightening rules for subsidies, eliminating enriched child care programs, raising fees that parents and providers pay, and halting new subsidies.” These program cuts directly impact families, many of whom were already struggling with paying the high cost of child care. Nine states have waiting lists for child care subsidies that continue to grow and Arizona is considering increasing their day care licensing fees by as much as 8,800% (read more on this here)- a fee that likely will be passed on to parents.
In Wisconsin, some areas of early education funding have seen decreases while others have seen cuts. The Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program continued to have strong support from the state legislature and it received an increase in funding over the previous biennium. Additionally, the program has no waiting list for families eligible for subsidy, even as the demand continues to rise. On the other hand, Wisconsin has reduced its overall funding for programs that improve child care quality. As a result, many low-income children can access care through the Wisconsin Shares program, but it may be of low-quality. These same children are those who could benefit most from high-quality services. In these tough economic times, it is important that early education program funding for low-income children and families address improvements in both access and quality.