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Child care workers in La Crosse gather to learn about ways to empower themselves



Wisconsin state Sen. Brad Pfaff speaks at a conference on child care in La Crosse on May 13, 2024 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

An empowerment conference brought child care workers together at Western Technical College in La Crosse on Monday.

Those providers discussed a shortage of staffers in their industry, and the need for higher pay and more services to help them.

Michelle Sampson with the Parenting Place in La Crosse said the level of burnout for child care staffers is high, so much of the Monday program was aimed at getting providers any help they need.

“These individuals are giving so much, and not always getting that in return,” Sampson told reporters at the conference, “so we wanted them to have a day to focus on themselves, empower each other, and truly honor this day,” which was declared A Day Without Child Care.

Sampson said about 136 worker slots in La Crosse were empty at the start of this year, so government grant money was used to help care centers bring in more workers.

Wisconsin state Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-Onalaska) said Gov. Tony Evers has been using federal funds to continue paying for the Child Care Counts program.

Pfaff argued at the session that it’s important to families to keep child care service affordable.

“On average in the state of Wisconsin,” Pfaff said, “one year of child care costs as much as tuition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Just think about that. It’s about $1,000 a month.”

Pfaff added that he knows parents in his Senate district who have to drive 20 miles one-way to take a child to daycare, because it’s not available where they live.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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