The grants will add capacity, improve quality, support small business.
La Crosse County on Wednesday awarded just under $500,000 in grants to 37 child care providers in La Crosse County. The funds come from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation and will be used to help child care providers increase capacity, improve the quality of care, and access state programming.
Among the recipients are a provider in Rockland planning to use the funding to increase capacity, a child care in Campbell planning to purchase a radon mitigation system, and providers in Shelby, Holmen and West Salem adding outdoor play equipment. Grant amounts could not exceed $25,000 and the recipients are an almost even mix of in-home child care and child care centers.
“This funding is going to make a huge difference for my small business and for my community,” said Josie Wermager, who runs Learning Wagon Preschool and Childcare in Rockland and is planning to add 15 new slots using her grant.
Grants were also awarded to providers in Onalaska, Mindoro, and Medary for items that include liability insurance, software, assistance with licensing costs, new doors, fences and windows. The $500,000 in funding for the grant program was approved by the La Crosse County Board.
Various capital projects were eligible for the grants and applications were vetted by staff from the county, UW-Extension, and two committees. All the grants are going to providers outside the City of La Crosse. This decision was made in part to ensure providers in all parts of La Crosse County had access to grant funding. A separate child care grant program, also funded with ARPA dollars, has already been launched in the City of La Crosse.
The county is also working to add as many as 60 new child care slots at the Hillview campus on the southside of La Crosse. The proposal is part of a plan to remodel the county-owned nursing home to include an intergenerational day center operated by a private contractor. A portion of the child care slots at Hillview would be open to the public, with others expected to be reserved for county employees.