WFIS, along with many other organizations with a stake in early learning, is striving for an increase in state subsidy rates for low-income children needing support to attend preschool. Our private schools are running high quality programs in rural, urban and suburban settings that are socio-economically diverse. Many families need the subsidy to attend.
The Ways and Means and The Appropriations legislative committees have both held hearings this past week. They have listened to a multitude of organizations and agencies testify on behalf of their programs. The legislature will be making difficult decisions about what to support and what to cut.
Saying childcare is expensive is an understatement. Many families cobble together care for their children outside of established programs because of the cost. State subsidies, however, help make childcare an option for many working parents. There is a catch though, the rate of the subsidies is so low that childcare programs also have to subsidize for these families. This results in an ever increasing number of programs edging dangerously close to extinction. Good programs are stretched too tight to pay teachers a reasonable salary. With the increase in minimum wage and health care expenses, childcare programs are closing around the state. Many private schools have given up their early learning programs or stopped taking families using subsidies.
If the subsidy rate was thoughtfully increased, programs would be able to support families, pay teachers, and keep their doors open. In a State committed to early learning and mixed socio-economic classrooms, this seems like a necessary and balanced investment to support opportunities for children learn and parents to work.