Pandemic funds head to hospitals, childcare providers; nonprofit calls support ‘critical’

MADISON, Wis. – Governor Tony Evers announced Thursday that $40 million will go to Wisconsin hospitals at the same time the first round of money as part of the Child Care Counts program is heading to early care and education providers.

COVID-19 hospital funding to help cover costs

The $40 million will be distributed to hospitals based upon Medicaid revenue calculations in a single payment and will assist with lost revenue and expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic during the months of March, April and May.

“The work of Wisconsin’s hospitals is life-saving work, whether during a pandemic or not,” Evers said during a press conference. “But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we know hospitals are stretched thin. This funding will help alleviate the financial strain.”

“Today’s announcement from Governor Evers is very welcome news as hospitals continue recovering from the financial impacts of COVID-19,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding in a statement, in which he said stopping non-emergency services and procedures resulted in billions of dollars worth of revenue losses for hospitals statewide.

Hospitals will begin receiving payments in early July.

Program sends money to childcare providers

At the same time, daycare centers are beginning to see relief in this challenging time, as well.

“We’re very relationship-based in our work, so staff miss the children,” said Jen Bailey, executive director of Reach Dane, which serves more than 1,000 children in Dane and Green counties in a number of care facilities.

The pandemic has shut down Reach Dane’s locations since early March. When they do reopen, it will be with smaller class sizes and higher intensity sanitation procedures.

“Childcare was already a very under-resourced field,” Bailey said.

Now with revenue streams down and costs up with new safety measures, she said many childcare centers are facing additional barriers including needing the money to pay staff what they deserve.

“The incentive pay we are looking to provide just for the summer will cost $200,000,” Bailey said. “For a small center — we are a large agency with a large number of employees — but most small childcare centers have little in the way of any reserve.”

In Thursday’s press conference, Evers also addressed the Child Care Counts program. He said earlier this week, the Department of Children and Families awarded more than $32 million to 2,367 early care and education providers through the first period of the program, which provides funding for care of essential workforce families. The next two application periods support incentive pay for staff and facilities that were temporarily closed.

“I don’t think I can emphasize just how critical this funding from the state is,” Bailey said, adding that while Reach Dane couldn’t apply during the first application period, the nonprofit already applied for the program’s second round.

“It really will be the difference between centers being able to be open, being able to pay staff, and having to close,” Bailey said. “That’s a potential crisis situation if we have 40% of childcare centers that go out of business. That impacts our whole economy.”

Bailey said Reach Dane centers are starting to bring staff back and will likely welcome children again later this month.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that 2,367 early care and education providers received federal funding instead of 367 as originally written.