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Off Track: An Assessment of Wisconsin’s Early Care and Learning System for Young Children

Badger Institute

September 30, 2022


Raising children, as can be fully appreciated only after you’ve done it, takes place in real
time. They eat, sleep and grow whether you’re ready or not. So as parents supply children
with the most crucial material treasure they ever will receive — a stable, loving home — many
rely on some outside help in caring for their children while earning a living. Wisconsin long ago
decided to assist low-income parents in finding good help.

How is Wisconsin doing at this? Not so well.

Here, an eminent Wisconsin-based scholar and Badger Institute visiting fellow, Angela Rachidi,
examines the current landscape, looking at how Wisconsin spends about $400 million a year in
federal and state taxpayer money to subsidize childcare and early learning. Crucially, she looks
at how the government’s efforts to improve the quality of childcare has increased costs, diminished parents’ options and resulted in fewer children accessing the help that taxpayers offer.
And Rachidi lays out steps that Wisconsin policymakers can take to fix things — specifically
how they can reduce the deadening weight of the state’s hand and, instead, give more authority to parents and childcare providers.

Her recommendations are urgent: Wisconsin’s future adults are growing and learning in real
time, whether their parents — and the state’s assistance — are ready or not.

Download the full report here.