Jackson County Child Care Network

The Jackson County Child Care Network started as a taskforce of area businesses working to address child care shortage in the community. Many parts of Jackson County are classified as child care deserts, whereas many families struggle to find quality, affordable care for their children. The lack of child care options left parents and caregivers juggling finding consistent care and missing work. Employers also noticed that many parents couldn’t work overtime and missed work due to child care issues. Lack of child care costs Jackson County an estimated $2.5 million per year in lost productivity.

The taskforce conducted meetings, surveys, and outreach, including making a connection with the Southwestern Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN). They partnered with DCF under the Preschool Development Grant to pilot a new shared services network. The Jackson County Child Care Network works to improve recruitment and retention of child care workers in Jackson County, establish a shared services network through Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA), and improve the quality of care in the community.

The group’s work led to the addition of three new child care providers in Jackson County. They have enrolled seven programs into the shared services network. These seven providers are receiving 1:1 mentoring and coaching, technology assistance, professional development, and assistance with navigating regulatory compliance. The cost savings in these areas helps providers offset the costs in other areas and allows them to work towards increasing the pay of their workforce.

The Jackson County Child Care Network also worked with the local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter to implement new Farm to ECE initiatives. According to Marianne Torkelson, Vice President of Business and Development and Training at the Co-Op Credit Union in Black River Falls, “In a small community, unique opportunities to support the ECE workforce can happen anywhere. I bumped into Mr. Brad Markhardt, our local high school Agriculture teacher and Black River Falls FFA advisor, at the grocery store check out aisle. We just started talking and an opportunity for the students in FFA to work with our local ECE programs emerged. This opportunity will provide our youngest learners valuable exposure to gardening and an understanding on the important contributions farming and farm products play in our health and wellness.”

2020 PDG funds were used to:

  • Support group and family child care programs in Jackson County with financial, human resources, technology, administrative and educational leadership needs.
  • Develop a community stakeholder group.

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