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Superior, Douglas County officials recommend child care grants

Daily Telegram - 11/3/2023

Nov. 2—SUPERIOR — Superior and Douglas County officials joined forces Wednesday, Nov. 1, to begin tackling the child care crisis in the county.

The County-City Committee recommended grants for child care providers that will open 30 slots for toddlers in Superior and help maintain existing child care availability throughout Douglas County.

The city of Superior applied for a Dream Up! Childcare Grant through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and was awarded $30,000 to help child care providers throughout Douglas County.

Child care providers in Superior, Poplar, Lake Nebagamon and South Range applied to receive the funding for a variety of projects. The total funding request by 10 child care providers was $41,953 to support about $72,386 in projects.

"We could, if you are so inclined, approve all of these grants at the full amount," said Mayor Jim Paine, co-chair of the committee. "The reason for that is the city actually has extra funds available largely because we set aside some of our ARPA money ... specifically for child care. The city could elect simply to fund those."

The Superior City Council allocated $200,000 for child care from money received from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. About $63,000 remained after grants were awarded in 2022.

Paine said the Dream Up! grant funding would support child care providers in the county first, and city funding would supplement the available grant funding for providers in the city.

"That is my recommendation to you tonight ... that we approve all of the grants," Paine said. It's the same recommendation he said he will make to the council when they consider the grants Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Douglas County Supervisors Nick Baker, seconded by Scott Luostari, made the motion to award all the grant funding requests.

The Douglas County Board is not required to consider the grants because the Dream Up! grant was awarded to the city.

"We thought we were going to have to figure out who got and who didn't get, so this is kind of good news for us," said Mark Liebaert, Douglas County Board chairman and co-chair of the committee. He said he was glad to see the city provide additional funding so all of the applications can be approved.

"This application process was extremely successful," Paine said. "The measure of success is the most amount of providers possible applying for the most amount of money. If you look at the grant applications ... you'll see that if we fund all of these, we won't just be keeping child care providers open. We'll actually be increasing access to child care."

Projects planned by Happy Hearts Day Care and Newborn 2 School's two locations would add capacity once complete.

"I just need to be in contact with licensing and do some re-measurements," said Amy Benson, owner of Newborn 2 School Education. She anticipated it would take 30-60 days after her project is complete to be up and running with 18 additional slots between the two care centers, she said.

"Child care everywhere is definitely at a crisis level," said Supervisor Mary Lou Bergman. "I'm really pleased to see the city move forward with this."

Paine said he's in favor of the city and county partnering because "it's real, measurable progress" to serve children and families in the community.

"This is such an extraordinary effort of co-governance, and I'm just really thankful for all of the work everyone put in," said Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, who discovered the state grant opportunity and pushed the city to apply. She also thanked the child care providers who applied for the grants for the "celebratory moment."

Cindy Campbell's Daycare in Superior applied for $6,535.92 to replace a deck that is used as part of child care space. The facility will receive $5,000 toward the project from Dream Up! grant dollars.

Happy Hearts Day Care in Superior applied for $10,579.35 to cover the installation of drain tile to stop flooding in a child care room and to purchase a washing machine for child care use only. The facility will receive $5,000 in Dream Up! grant dollars and $5,000 in matching funds from the city of Superior.

Mickey Mouse Playhouse in Superior applied for $1,792.91 to purchase a freezer for shared use and a kitchen table for child care use. The facility will receive $1,147 in Dream Up! grant dollars toward the project.

Lori's Lake Nebagamon Child Care applied for $4,881.46 to purchase permanent outdoor play structures. The facility will receive its full funding request from Dream Up! grant funds.

Almost Home Childcare in Superior applied for $10,450 toward the purchase of a shared use furnace. The facility will receive $5,000 in Dream Up! grant dollars.

Heart of the North Learning Center in Poplar applied for $10,055.22 to remove carpet and replace the flooring in the child care space only. The facility will receive $5,000 in Dream Up! grant funding.

Newborn 2 School Education's Hill Avenue site in Superior applied for $11,346.66 to purchase permanent indoor play equipment and a room divider. The facility will receive a $5,000 from the Dream Up! grant and $5,000 in matching funds from the city of Superior.

Newborn 2 School Education's Mariner Business Center location applied for $10,819.73 to purchase a room divider and to install an outdoor bike path. The facility will receive $5,000 in Dream Up! grant dollars and $5,000 in matching funds from the city of Superior.

Tender Loving Care in Superior applied for $1,773.99 to purchase an outdoor faucet, hose and outdoor storage. The facility's entire request will be met through Dream Up! grant funds.

K & E Kids in South Range applied for $4,150.86 to purchase supplies for a new fence and post hole digging. The facility's entire request will be met with funding from the Dream Up! grant.

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