The Recombobulation Area
The Recombobulation Area
PODCAST: State Sen. Kelda Roys on child care funding in Wisconsin
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PODCAST: State Sen. Kelda Roys on child care funding in Wisconsin

The special session on child care called last month had its first public hearing yesterday. It was...interesting. But at least it happened.
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The Recombobulation Area is a ten-time Milwaukee Press Club award-winning weekly opinion column and online publication written, edited and published by longtime Milwaukee journalist Dan Shafer. Learn more about it here.

Kelda Roys offers testimony on child care during a public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Photo courtesy Sen. Roys office.

The issue of Child Care funding is a major one in Wisconsin, and this year, it has taken on an especially partisan tone in Madison. Earlier this year, Republican legislators blocked a proposal to continue funding a program called Child Care Counts, in a 2:30 a.m. vote of the state’s budget writing committee. 

Child Care Counts is a program that has helped stabilize the child care industry during the pandemic, helped raise wages for early care educators, kept costs down for parents and families, and was recently recognized by the Wisconsin Policy Forum with an award for innovation in state government. But the federal dollars that have been funding that program are now running out, putting thousands of child care centers at risk of closing.  

That 2:30 a.m. vote, however, was not the end of the story. Gov. Tony Evers called a special on workforce challenges, and the highlight of that session was more than $350 million to continue the Child Care Counts program in Wisconsin. Oftentimes, these special sessions are met with a gavel-in, gavel-out approach from state Republicans, but this time in the state Senate, at least, the bill is being considered. Yesterday, there was a public hearing on that bill, and many child care providers, parents and experts spoke in favor of the bill and of funding Child Care Counts.

Among those providing testimony in that hearing was Democratic State Senator Kelda Roys, who has been among the most vocal champions of child care funding, and she joined us to talk about these issues.


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Dan Shafer is a journalist from Milwaukee who writes and publishes The Recombobulation Area. He’s also written for The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Heartland Signal, Belt Magazine, WisPolitics, and Milwaukee Record. He previously worked at Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business Magazine, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine, and BizTimes Milwaukee. He’s won 17 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards. He’s on Twitter at @DanRShafer.

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