Parents to Pay More for Child Care?

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Gov. Jim Doyle promised not to raise taxes in his budget introduced in February, but his plan raises some fees, including state licensing fees for child care providers.
"A lot of people do a lot of sacrificing in order for their kids to have what they consider to be a really great start," Becky Van Houten, director of the Preschool of the Arts, says.
Van Houten feels she gives the more than 200 kids at her facility a great start, but it comes with a cost.

"The thing that goes along with being accredited means that you have to have teachers well qualified so we have a lot of people here with four year degrees in early childhood education," she says.

Van Houten says on average parents pay $800 a month for day care all day.
One parent says "day care is very expensive."

And it could get more expensive. The governor has proposed doubling state licensing fees for day care providers.

Van Houten says, "in order to meet our budget, we have to pass all of our costs onto parents."

Others say parents could see a payoff in the governor's budget.

"By doing the rating system, every parent would know exactly what kind of day care they're going to get," Denise Bunbury of Community Coordinated Child Care says.
The governor's calling for a five star rating system for day care providers, saying it gives them an incentive to go beyond the basic standards.

Nancy Kiefer, a parent who uses day care, says "there is a word of mouth rating system. I think an actual state rating would be a good idea. If it makes it unaffordable, it's not going to help."

Under the governor's plan, the higher the rating, the more state reimbursement.
Van Houten says, "it's going to be based on staff qualifications ... national standards ... If you can't afford to pay those salaries, those kinds of fees, you might not be able to make it."

A spokesperson from the department of workforce development says the budget has built in assistance for day care providers to improve the quality of their programs.

The higher fees would generate roughly $575, 000 in additional revenue each year. The ratings system, if approved, would go into effect next year.

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