City hopes to bolster child care in La Crosse using ARPA funds with the Parenting Place | Government and Politics


The city of La Crosse hopes it can bolster child care in the community by using some of its federal COVID relief money to fund efforts by the Parenting Place.

A $350,000 grant would specifically hire a new coordinator with the Parenting Place, as well as set aside funds to support child care businesses with higher wages, start-up costs or expansion.

This grant would come from the city’s nearly $22 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, also known as ARPA, and would pay for these services for about a year.

The city’s Economic Development Commission will vote on the one-year contract on Thursday morning. The group could enter into closed session to discuss the contract, but any action taken on the funding would be taken in open session.

The Parenting Place is a nonprofit that provides resources for parents and child care providers in the community. In the proposed contract, the city identified it as a unique group that does work that no other entity is doing in the area.

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The goal of the pilot project is largely to retain and eventually add to the amount of child care spots in the community.

To do this, according to the contract, retaining staff will be important. The new coordinator would focus on helping businesses find sustainable ways to raise wages and identifying and addressing common reasons for turnover.

In addition, the coordinator would focus on remarketing child care, emphasizing the important role it plays on early childhood education and the skilled labor it takes to work in child care.

Finding untapped communities to work in child care will be prioritized, too, such as retirees, high schoolers and displaced workers.

Hiring the new coordinator will cost $90,849 from the grant, and the remaining funds will be used to support child care businesses in the community.

About $183,000 will be used as incentives to retain existing child care providers. Additionally, $37,500 will help expand existing child care centers, and $38,651 will support the start up new daycares.

The Parenting Place will oversee the process of awarding these funds to child care centers, according to the proposal, similarly to the the La Crosse Community Foundation’s work distributing ARPA funds to other nonprofits.

The city’s proposal with the Parenting Place is in contrast to the way La Crosse County is looking at spending its ARPA funds to support child care.

Currently, the La Crosse County Board is weighing whether it should spend about $3 million to open child care centers at area school districts, starting with about $700,000 with the School District of La Crosse, which hopes to open a center for staff and impoverished community members.

That proposal has gained pushback as some board members worry funding the school’s daycare center would hurt existing child care facilities in the community.

The La Crosse Common Council will need to approve the contract with the Parenting Place at its July meeting before it is adopted.

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