April 6, 2018
Written by Tim Coughlin, manager, Kindergarten Readiness Partnership, Milwaukee Succeeds
Recently, Congress passed and the president signed the FY18 Omnibus appropriations bill. This bill includes a $2.3 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which means an additional $35.4 million in child care funding for Wisconsin.
Thank you to the legislators who supported this bill. This is a great step forward for an industry that has been in financial distress for over a decade. However, even more funding is needed in order for programs to continue to offering high-quality early childhood education, sustaining those high-quality practices, and attracting and retaining a workforce at wages commensurate with their credentials.
Additionally, I’m thrilled to share that Milwaukee Succeeds has surpassed our 2020 target for the number of children enrolled in child care programs that meet high-quality standards in YoungStar! YoungStar is the Quality Rating and Improvement System created in 2010 to improve the quality of child care for Wisconsin children with an emphasis on children from low-income working families that receive Wisconsin Shares child care subsidies. YoungStar evaluates the quality of programs and rates them from 1 to 5 Stars based on four categories: Education qualifications and training; Learning environment and curriculum; Professional and business practices; and Child health and well-being practices.
When Milwaukee Succeeds launched this goal in 2012, 8% of children were enrolled in 4 and 5 Star programs. Milwaukee Succeeds committed to engaging individuals and organizations to collectively work to double that number by 2020. Currently, 17.5% of children receiving WI Shares are enrolled in 4 and 5 Star programs! For all programs that increased their Star rating, the greatest area of improvement is in the Learning Environment and Curriculum category, meaning that directors and teachers in these programs are adequately trained to deliver quality, developmentally appropriate practices and demonstrate that they are being implemented within the classroom. This reinforces our strategies to further assist teachers in professional development along with coaching and mentoring.
Milwaukee has reached this milestone because of the dedication, hard work, and collective commitment to collaboration by partners focused on ensuring that Milwaukee’s children reach their fullest potential in school and in life. This is evidenced, in part, by partnerships working together to improve child care quality like Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, MATC, Milwaukee Public Library, Marquette University, 4C-For Children, and partnerships focused on advocating to improve access to quality early care and education like the Milwaukee Child Care Alliance, the Wisconsin Early Learning Coalition, Children’s Empowerment Through Education, and the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council.
Let’s take this moment to celebrate this win and thank early childhood education professionals, to whom all the credit goes, for all their hard work. Then let’s keep working collaboratively to make sure that many more children can benefit from high-quality early childhood education!
Learn more about Milwaukee Succeeds Goal 1: Kindergarten Readiness.