Wisconsin Early Childhood Association Launches shared services network
Addresses Child Care Shortages in Vernon and Monroe Counties
April 17, 2019
The Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) with funding from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program supported by Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) Endowment has officially launched the Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN). 68% of rural Wisconsinites live in a child care desert, where there are three or more children for every one licensed child care opening (Center for American Progress, 2018). Many businesses in Vernon and Monroe Counties, such as Organic Valley, Vernon Memorial Health Care, and Scenic Bluffs, have reported that it’s become increasingly more difficult to attract and retain key employees due to lack of child care options.
Based on evidence that shows that shared services can improve administrative practices and stabilize the child care market, WECA has developed Wisconsin’s first Early Education Shared Services Network, WEESSN. During a kick-off meeting earlier this year, WECA enrolled child care programs as Charter Members into the shared services network with the unique role of helping to identify the most pressing needs in child care in Vernon and Monroe Counties. This information will guide the focus of the shared services to be provided. Charter Members are excited to be part of this innovative program. A shared service network allows family and center-based child care programs to maintain their respective missions while also capitalizing on economies of scale, expertise, and community collaboration. By streamlining and automating “back office” tasks, child-care providers will have more time and resources to dedicate to quality programming and family engagement.
“The current workforce depends on stable and high quality child care options, while the future of our state lies in the healthy development of the next generation of workers,” said Wisconsin Early Childhood Association Executive Director, Ruth Schmidt. “There is an important conversation about the return on investment that needs to happen across private and public sectors to support children and families.” Businesses like Gundersen Health and Organic Valley have donated to support WEESSN because they understand parents often struggle to find affordable, high-quality care for their children. The future Wisconsin workforce, skilled and ready to work, depends on decisions we make today for our children.
Interested child care programs can learn more at https://wisconsinearlychildhood.org/programs/weessn/ or call Shared Services Coordinator, Kelly Matthews, at (319) 471-7901 for more information.
WECA works to advance positive change in Wisconsin by focusing on the professionals who care for and educate our children. WECA strengthens the capacities of early care professionals through a variety of methods, like training, educational scholarships, and sponsoring the Child and Adult Care Food Program.