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October 2, 2017

A Summary of the Final 2017-19 Budget for Early Care and Education

The final 2017-19 budget summary shows a significant increase in funding for the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program relative to the current spending level, especially in the second fiscal year of the 2017-19 two year budget. Nevertheless, the increased appropriations are far below the amounts expended in past years, before the state made policy changes that have significantly reduced the reimbursement rates and the number of families and providers participating in the subsidy program. The budget also includes additional funding for home visiting.

Here are some highlights of the summary.

CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES

  • The biennial budget provides a $38.1 million increase for Wisconsin Shares subsidies over the two-year budget.
  • A significant portion of the subsidy program increases is in the second fiscal year. Most of the increases are due to implementation of new federal Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Reauthorization requirements, including a 12-month eligibility modification.
  • The bill mitigates the sudden drop-off (cliff effect) in subsidy benefits that occurs when a working family’s income reaches the current income threshold (200% of poverty).
  • The Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program has shown a serious decline over the last decade, with annual subsidy payments dropping over $130 million in current dollars and frozen payment rates for most of the last 11 years. The budget provides some improvements, but the foundation of Wisconsin Shares continues to look shaky without reasonable payment rates.
  • The budget does little to increase the quality of child care programs, despite strong advocacy proposals to (1) provide grants to improve and sustain quality programs, (2) increase TEACH scholarships and REWARD stipends to improve the child care workforce, and (3) increase Wisconsin Shares payment rates.

HOME VISITING

  • The budget increases the Family Foundations Home Visiting (FFHV) Program’s budget by $3.9 million in each year of the biennium.
  • The increase in funding will cover an estimated 400-550 families that will benefit from evidence-based models shown by research to improve child outcomes, family self-sufficiency, and health and safety.

The two-year budget period runs through June 2019.

For more details, go to  this link: final 2017-19 budget summary for early care and education