The Partner Up! grant program is taking applications from Wisconsin businesses, which can help their employees’ families with child care costs.
Partner Up! is a statewide initiative from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families’ Project Growth that will help families throughout the state receive quality, regulated child care at little to no out-of-pocket cost to them.
The ongoing national child care crisis means working families are struggling to find affordable, accessible, high-quality child care. Through Partner Up!, participating businesses will secure subsidized child care slots in local, regulated child care programs for their employees’ use. The business will contribute at least 25% of the true cost of care for each slot they reserve, and Partner Up! will pay the remaining amount, leaving parents with zero cost in most cases.
Partner Up! encourages businesses to contract with the regulated child care programs their employees are already using, so children can remain in their current care environments and have their existing slot paid through Partner Up! The grant program will provide $10 million to support child care for Wisconsin’s businesses.
“Participating families will get relief from the large financial strain caused by the high cost of child care, and they will be able to work with peace of mind that their children are in quality, regulated care,” said Matricia Patterson, executive director of Supporting Families Together Association, the agency selected to administer the Partner Up! program. “Overall, it will help Wisconsin’s entire economy by allowing more parents to work and businesses to thrive.”
In addition to helping families access care, Partner Up! was designed to help address the worker shortage for participating businesses and child care providers. Participating businesses will be able to recruit and retain their own workers with an employee child care benefit that is both personally and financially impactful.
For many child care programs, the payments for slots filled by Partner Up! will be higher than their typical market rates, and these extra funds can be used to recruit and retain staff with higher wages, purchase quality supplies for children, or increase program quality in a number of other ways.
Child care affordability and accessibility is a significant barrier for Wisconsin’s workforce. According to Child Care Aware of America’s Child Care Data Center, Wisconsin has only 57 child care slots for every 100 young children whose parents work. The average cost of child care in Wisconsin is $10,764 per child — the same as University of Wisconsin tuition and fees ($10,722).
Businesses and child care providers in the southeastern Wisconsin region can contact 4C For Children’s Michelle Balsimo at 414-659-7332 for more information or help applying. The Partner Up! application is available online. Businesses need to apply by April 4, the date the application period closes.
In December 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families awarded administration of the Partner Up! grant program to Supporting Families Together Association, in partnership with Wisconsin’s nine Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. Partner Up! is part of Project Growth, a large-scale grant program from DCF designed to help Wisconsin businesses, communities and early care and education partners add services find solutions and innovate to ensure a stable, high-quality workforce in Wisconsin. Learn more at projectgrowth.wi.gov.
4C For Children is the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency serving Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha counties. 4C offers a variety of services that support quality early care and education. The agency provides training for existing and new child care providers, helps parents navigate the process of child care options available, works closely with the state regarding the delivery of YoungStar services and provides a USDA Food Service program for Family Child Care Providers. 4C is recognized as a leader in the field of early education.
Learn more at www.4cfc.org.
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