Policy Agenda & Progress

Impact of Federal Relief Funding

Various short-term funding resources and initiatives have been taking place on the state and local levels to assist in addressing child care access and affordability in Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin State Legislature began allocating an influx of federal stimulus relief funding in 2020 as longstanding child care issues were worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.


These resources have helped address some of the most immediate needs in Wisconsin’s child care infrastructure to help programs remain open, assist parents in maintaining employment and support the state economy. Community leaders also have been developing innovative ways to prioritize child care accessibility and affordability to support children, families, businesses and communities on the local and regional levels.


was funneled to Wisconsin with a portion rapidly allocated to support child care infrastructure. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included nearly $131 million in emergency and supplemental payments to assist child care programs from spring to fall of 2020 – the Child Care Counts Program.


was provided through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), which included a total of $147.5 million in relief for Wisconsin’s child care sector. The $107 million for Child Care Counts in those funds was distributed to eligible programs in spring 2021 and was complemented by $10 million for a Workforce Retention and Recognition Program, which provided stipends of at least $350 to eligible child care providers and their staff.


was funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which included $357 million for the Child Care Counts Stabilization Payment Program, which launched in November 2021 and provides regulated child care providers with monthly payments through 2023 to remain open, assist with staffing and continue to provide high-quality care. A local early childhood coalition administered a survey to gauge the impact of federal funding and Child Care Counts on child care providers in the city of Milwaukee. Read the full report from Milwaukee Succeeds. 


received ARPA funds to utilize based on local needs, and leaders went to work to create innovative and needed child care-focused solutions.

In Door County, the United Way received a $3.5 million grant from ARPA dollars to help fund a large, new center to assist parents of young children in Sturgeon Bay who learned the city’s primary child care center was going to close. In Milwaukee, the Common Council approved a $7 million investment of ARPA funds to support the ECE sector, including workforce stipends and ways to strengthen and diversify the pipeline into the ECE profession with a focus on young men of color.In Jackson County, the county board approved utilizing $105,500 of their local ARPA dollars to support early educators and support staff through retention bonuses and assist new providers with start-up costs in an effort to bring stability to the field at the local level.