Top-tier child care centers in Milwaukee are subsidized by the state at below local market rates despite bumps from the recently implemented YoungStar ratings system, according to a new report. In addition, low YoungStar ratings and frozen pay rates are prompting some family child care centers in the central city to close. Read More
Nearly 80 percent of child care centers in Milwaukee’s central city received a two-star rating earlier this year, an analysis by the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service found. As a result, the centers experienced a 5 percent slash in their Wisconsin Shares subsidies when YoungStar was implemented in July.
NNS caught up with family day care providers interviewed as part of a Special Report published in May.
“Things have only gotten worse,” said Linda Carter Brooks, who runs a two-star family day care center in Lindsay Heights. “Three of my friends closed shop in the last few months, and I don’t think I can sustain this center much longer.”
Brooks, like other family providers, was hurt by the August 2011 switch from an enrollment to an attendance-based pay system before the YoungStar cuts were implemented. She said it is unfair for providers not to be paid because a child does not show up, and the cuts as well as the frozen pay rate have only exacerbated the situation, she said.
Another two-star licensed family provider, La Tonya Johnson, has begun the process of closing her center.
“I am a single mother, I have to survive, and this business can’t even keep itself alive anymore,” said Johnson, president of Child Care Providers Together, the Milwaukee chapter of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Felipa Ramirez, a two-star family provider on Milwaukee’s South Side, is coping well with the reduced income.
“Enrollment is down right now, but I had a few more kids this summer, so that helped,” she said. “I’m taking classes now to have a better degree so I don’t have these cuts.”
However, Ramirez said that a few providers she knows personally recently shut down their businesses.
“I am staying in this business because I have my family and children to support,” she said. “I’m working on getting a four-star [rating].”