DCF Unveils Policy Change that Penalizes Family Child Care
Imagine your boss telling you that your business is taking a step to encourage productivity and trim costs by converting your pay from a monthly salary to a daily wage – with no compensation for sick days, personal days, or vacation days. That would be hard to take, but would be a little bit easier to swallow if the daily compensation is calculated to offset the loss of paid days off.
But imagine that your employer doesn’t do that — so you’ll take a big pay cut when the daily pay rate is computed by dividing your previous monthly salary by the number of business days in the month. (If you get 3 weeks of paid vacation and holidays, and also take an average of 5 paid sick days or personal days each year – for a total of 20 paid days off — the new pay plan would amount to about an 8 percent cut from your previous annual earnings.)
Envision that these changes are imposed despite the fact that you have accepted a frozen salary level for each of the past five years. And while you’re imaging that scenario, picture the new pay changes happening with about one week of advance notice, and no opportunity for give and take – no consultation or collaboration about the best ways of improving efficiency and trimming costs.
What I’ve described is a pretty close analogy to what family child care providers are facing right now, after Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) released an “operations memo” Friday revealing that it will begin on August 28 to apply a new attendance-based policy for reimbursing family providers who serve children in the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program.
As Daithi Wolfe explains in a WCCF blog post, the change to an attendance only reimbursement policy means “payment is based solely on hours attended, unlike private child care, Head Start, and public and choice schools where everything is enrollment based–i.e. payment is for a slot.” Wolfe notes that the new system is likely to result in “an immediate 7-8% compensation cut (based on average attendance figures).” That will greatly exacerbate the financial strain caused by Wisconsin Shares reimbursement rates that have been frozen since 2005.
These changes will be a real hardship for struggling providers, which means that the proposal will be a blow to the quantity and quality of care available to many working families. Since absences tend to be more frequent for infants and toddlers, the new policy will probably further reduce the number of child care providers willing and able to serve the youngest kids.
Read more in the WCCF blog post, which provides a much more thorough outline of the problems with this proposal.