Labor Secretary visits Eau Claire child care facility

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - It’s no secret employers are having trouble finding workers as the economy starts reopening. One major impediment to people going back to work is finding adequate child care. Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh visited Days Gone By Early Learning in Eau Claire to learn about the issue in the Chippewa Valley.

The visit was part of Walsh’s trip to Eau Claire and La Crosse to promote President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan proposals.

“It’s a struggle all across this country,” Walsh said. “And it’s not just getting child care, it’s getting good quality, high-quality child care. I think that that’s the key.”

Days Gone By Early Learning owner Loralie Wallerius sees the lack of adequate child care problem firsthand.

“If they don’t have a place for their children to go, they can’t work,” she said.

As a business owner, Wallerius is impacted by both sides of the shortage.

“If my employees have a child who’s sick, that employee’s gone,” she said. “I can’t just not staff that classroom, I have to have someone else to come in and take that spot. It’s no different for any other business in America, you have to have employees to be able to function.”

She also said there aren’t enough options for parents locally.

“In our area I’d say that the majority of centers are full. If they’re a high-quality center and they’re offering good-quality care, they have waiting lists and so getting into those centers if very difficult for families,” Wallerius said.

She said her center’s full too but still gets plenty of calls from parents looking for help.

“I would say we get calls almost every week for parents who are starting a new job, looking for a new job, and they’re looking for child care before they know they can start a job,” Wallerius said. “So if they can’t find child care, they can’t accept a job.”

She said she has kids from all over region, including as far a Eleva, Osseo and Mondovi.

Walsh said Biden’s proposals include spending $225 billion on child care.

He said in April, the administration released $39 billion for child care that was part of the American Rescue Plan, which became law in March.

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