Wisconsin resources aid families in 'child care deserts'

As the holidays wrapped up, experts say concern has ramped up over a possible surge in coronavirus cases.

It’s keeping students out of the classroom, or even sending others who were not virtual into a distance learning model for a period of time. 

When it comes to getting an education during a pandemic, it seems both students and parents are learning something new — how to navigate learning models and shift at any given moment.

"The Department of Children and Families (DCF) and partners in the community are here to help," Erin Arango-Escalante said.

Arango-Escalante works in the division of early care and education with DCF and says the need for child care is a critical issue that's been an ongoing problem. 

"Prior to COVID, about 40% of the ZIP codes in the state were considered child care deserts," Arango-Escalante said. "What that means is for every three children living in a ZIP code under the age of 5 there is only one or less spots for those children."

COVID-19 is now exacerbating the issue. To help families navigate the struggles of finding childcare, DCF shares tools and resources for families looking for flexibility and placement. 

"4-C's for parents, it’s a one-stop-shop where parents should pick up the phone give them a call, talk about what's available in their area what are they looking for," Arango-Escalante said.

While 4-C knows what's happening at every program, Arango-Escalante adds that DCF's parent portal is key to understanding options at family providers or centers in your area.

"It has the latest information on the youngster rating, which is our quality rating improvement system, it has previous license violations," said Arango-Escalante.

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And those trying to make ends meet may be eligible to get financial help through Wisconsin shares.

"We can provide them that authorization for those children, and it's something we absolutely," Arango-Escalante said. "We help really move that process so families can get the subsidy they need, so they can get the caret, and they can continue to work."

Resources about 4-C to Childcare and COVID-19