Below are a series of frequently asked questions regarding the governor's budget proposals for early care and education This section will be updated periodically as new information becomes available. The Budget in Brief provides aggregate figures for the per-child grants for children in 3-, 4-, and 5-star programs: $32,887,100 for Shares children and $19,693,700 for non-Shares children. How will these aggregate figures break down on a per-child basis? How much is the per-child stipend projected to be for Shares children? For non-Shares children? Will these per-child amounts vary based on whether a child is an infant or toddler? If so, how? The Child Care Strong program is designed to support child care providers entering into regulation and moving up the YoungStar quality rating and improvement system. The program also creates financial incentives to care for infants, toddlers, and children receiving Shares. The per child payments are higher for infants, toddlers, and 2-year olds, as well as for children receiving Shares. The maximum per child amounts are listed in the charts below. Child has a current WI Shares authorization Star level/Age 0 - 2 years 11 months 3-5 6+* 3 $80 $50 $30 4 $170 $100 $60 5 $280 $170 $100 Child is not eligible/not receiving for WI Shares Star level/Age 0 - 2 years 11 months 3-5 6+* 3 $35 $20 $10 4 $45 $30 $20 5 $55 $40 $30 *Monthly payments are available for children up to age 13, or up to age 19 for children with disabilities. The plan requires providers to allocate at least half of total monthly payments towards staff salaries and benefits. What would be the process to verify this requirement? Does this include a family childcare provider’s own salary, or does it only apply to employees? A central goal of Child Care Strong is to support the child care workforce by lifting wages and improving benefits. As part of the Child Care Strong application process, providers will be required to submit a budget that indicates their current personnel costs. Based on this information, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will set a target for the percentage of overall expenses that family providers and group providers spend on personnel. For a family child care provider, this requirement can be fulfilled with the provider’s own salary. DCF will provide technical assistance as needed for providers to develop budgets and work towards the established targets. Is the intention of the payments intended so the provider maintains their current fee structure, or will parents see some relief as a result? Is this more for non-shares families? Wisconsin’s B-5 Statewide Strategic Plan includes an intentional focus on supporting the workforce. For this reason, at least 50% of Child Care Strong funds must be allocated by providers to staff salaries and benefits. Child care providers will have options for how to use the remaining funding – including for tuition assistance, professional development, or supplies and materials. Could an online “worksheet” be created where child care centers could input what they currently receive and compare that with what they would receive under the new Child Care Strong plan? Yes, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) developed a Child Care Strong Calculator for child care providers to determine the maximum amount of funding they would receive monthly through this program. DCF is exploring ways to ensure that 4- and 5-star child care providers that currently receive YoungStar bonus payments are held harmless in the transition to Child Care Strong. Are the per child amounts different for children enrolled part-time? Children enrolled at a child care provider for 20 hours a week or less are considered part-time. Providers will receive 50% of the applicable per child monthly payment for children enrolled part-time. The press release references that “up to 10 percent of these funds will be directed towards developing two pilot programs in child care deserts to create a sustainable path towards accessibility.” Please provide more information on these pilots. Where would they happen? What would they look like? An implementation plan for these pilot programs has not been established yet; however, DCF will collaborate with stakeholders to identify the pilot areas. DCF also will collaborate with stakeholders in the selected areas to determine which program and funding changes would be beneficial to children, families, and early care and education providers in those communities. Regarding the proposed $3 million investment in early childhood social emotional learning training and technical assistance (T/TA), what specific T/TA will this investment go toward, and what is the mechanism for delivery? This funding is intended to align with the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) recommendation, made in its ECAC 2020 Report, around reducing early childhood suspension and expulsion. Specifically, the ECAC called for an investment in training and coaching for caregivers and the creation of a statewide infant and early childhood mental health consultation system to support social and emotional learning for children. The Budget in Brief references “Reallocating a portion of YoungStar” to new investment. What exactly are the details for this portion of the budget? Will programs have a reduction of their portion of their YoungStar percentage? Can we get more details about the new investments and where they will be used, and what communities will be benefited from them? The Governor’s budget includes a provision that ends the current YoungStar quality payment system. The funds from that system will be allocated towards Child Care Strong. The Child Care Strong program is designed to provide high-quality child care providers with financial incentives. Additionally, financial support will be available for programs entering into regulation and for providers caring for infants, toddlers, and children receiving Shares subsidies. Are the base amounts “up to” and what determines that; per child amounts will not be set “up to,” correct? The base amounts, infant and toddler bonuses, and per child stipends are all “up to” amounts. The exact amounts will be set depending on the total amount of funding available for the Child Care Strong program, the number of child care providers that enroll in the Child Care Strong program, and the number of children (Shares and non-Shares) who are enrolled at those providers. Would the YoungStar Microgrant be retained or is that eliminated in this proposal? Child Care Strong will utilize current microgrant funds as part of this large-scale financial incentive program, ultimately advancing access to high-quality and affordable early care and education opportunities. YoungStar participating programs will continue to receive free consultation and coaching opportunities to support their continuous quality improvement efforts. Below is additional information about the phase-out of the microgrant program: As of Friday (3/5), the microgrant program no longer accepted new purchase plans from programs. All purchase plans from open programs that have been received or are in process will be completed through the usual process. Any open program that chose to receive on-site TA services for the 2020 service year but has not yet submitted a Purchase Plan will be issued a check for the full amount of their 2020 grant by May 2021. Programs that are temporarily closed at this time are not eligible to receive a microgrant. Please reach out to your YoungStar Technical Consultant with any questions. The Budget in Brief says that “The state was also recently awarded $148.8 million in federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funds to provide an additional response to the ongoing effects the pandemic has had on the child care industry in the state.” What’s the plan for how these funds will be used? How does this budget proposal align with that plan? These questions are of particular interest to potential allies and legislators. Governor Evers and Secretary Amundson have announced the plan for these funds, which they will submit to the Joint Committee on Finance for approval. $106 million of the funding will be distributed through two additional phases of the Child Care Counts program. Five additional programs will also be created to address specific needs that are crucial to the future success of early care and education in Wisconsin, including funding critical technology infrastructure, workforce recruitment and retention, and shared services networks. Regarding increasing funding for T.E.A.C.H. and REWARD, does this mean more scholarships/wage supplements to more educators, or increasing the amount of the award for educators - for example to include more credits per student for T.E.A.C.H.? Funding for continuing educational scholarships through T.E.A.C.H. and stipends through REWARD are an important part of DCF’s strategy to support the workforce, and DCF is excited about the additional investment through the budget in REWARD. DCF also recognizes that this is a time to pause and consider how these programs can be improved to be more effective as a tool for workforce recruitment and retention. DCF will be gathering feedback from stakeholders before determining how the additional REWARD funding should be utilized.