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Virtual instruction for Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) this fall means many families have to make alternate arrangements for the care of their elementary-aged students, balancing work and child care. This need, and the costs associated with it, most acutely affects low-income students and those whose parents may be working to balance online learning and child care with work.

"As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic -- having access to adequate, affordable and safe child care is a significant challenge many of our families face each day”, said MMSD Superintendent, Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins. “As a community, we are all in this together, and meaningful initiatives like the Child Care Scholarship Fund can truly make a difference in providing an essential service to our neighbors who need it the most.”

Though the City of Madison and MMSD have both committed significant funds to help families with these costs, those commitments will not be enough to cover the anticipated expenses of low-income families in Madison.

To answer that need, MMSD, The City of Madison and United Way of Dane County have come together to announce the establishment of the Child Care Scholarship Fund at United Way of Dane County to provide business and philanthropic community members a place to donate funds for this purpose. Funds will be distributed directly to non-profit organizations, neighborhood centers or child care centers providing child care for low-income elementary school-aged children and virtual learning support to MMSD students.

“While the contribution that MMSD has made to offset the cost for many low-income families is impressive, we know that it only gets us part of the way toward providing adequate slots for learning for our youngest elementary students,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “We are calling on the generosity of our business and philanthropic partners to help us fill this gap and meet the needs for more low-income families in Madison.”

The goal is to raise $400,000. This will allow 150 children to attend full-time programming for free.

“United Way is delighted to partner with MMSD and the City of Madison to support the educational needs of families who live in Madison. United Way of Dane County frames issues, mobilizes resources and is accountable for results, and we know that childcare is one of the needs of families with school aged children during this pandemic.” said Renee Moe, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County.

Contributions to the fund can be made by contacting the United Way of Dane County or visiting this link.

Background information on current funding from MMSD and the City of Madison
To provide solutions for a portion of the district’s 14,000 elementary students, MMSD, the City of Madison and community child and youth serving organizations, including Madison School and Community Recreation (MSCR), teamed up to offer child care and virtual learning support in elementary schools and community sites across the city.

MMSD has covered approximately $1.5 million of the cost to provide care in 17 sites in elementary schools, along with significant supports for the remaining elementary school sites where other community partners are providing care. At the sites operated by MSCR, many of the slots are provided free or at a reduced price. The sites run by community organizations (not by MSCR) have limited ability to provide free or reduced prices for parents.

Annually, the city invests over $720,000 in elementary-age programming, but new circumstances call for an even greater investment. To fill some of the gap between need for care and families’ ability to pay, the city has made $100,000 available to child care centers and neighborhood centers to fund scholarships for low-income elementary-aged students to attend care at the community sites.