Brookfield childcare center says state funding helped them retain, recruit staff


BROOKFIELD, Wis. — The Kiddie Academy in Brookfield opened during the fall of 2020, perhaps one of the most difficult times to open a childcare center as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on.

From the beginning, owner Subhra Gupta said her goal was to make sure parents felt comfortable and secure dropping their kids off. For her, that meant making sure she had the best staff possible.

“Keeping the staff was very important and keeping that quality, or bringing in that quality staff,” Gupta said.

But hiring and retaining staff isn’t cheap. So she applied for the Childcare Counts program which was started by Gov. Tony Evers’ administration during the pandemic to help childcare centers stay open or even open their doors for the first time.

“The dollars truly helped retain the staff, one by making them happy. But second is we improved with providing them with the right level of training that they would be needing,” Gupta said.

Instead of passing along the costs for better teacher salaries and training to parents, Gupta was able to use Childcare Counts funding to cover the cost. Those dollars have also helped the center maintain healthy meals for their students as food prices have increased.

Because of the success of programs like Kiddie Academy, Gov. Evers said in his State of the State address last week that he wants to make further investments in childcare.

The governor proposed a more than $340 million investment to make the childcare counts program a permanent one.

Emilie Amundson, the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families, toured Kiddie Academy on Wednesday following the governor’s announcement.

Amundson said investing in child care means investing in a stronger workforce.

“A program like Childcare Counts helps to offset some of the really high costs that centers face as they increase their quality, as they look to recruit and retain staff and as they make sure to keep the costs down for working parents so parents can return to the workforce,” Amundson said.

Amundson said another facet of the program is to help high-quality childcare centers expand. Kiddie Academy already has two more facilities in the works.

Gov. Evers is also hoping to invest more in a child tax credit.

But the money isn’t set yet. The governor will put together his budget proposal later this month. The Republican-led legislature will come up with its own ideas. Together, they will have to come up with a final budget plan by July.

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