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Wisconsin struggles with child care worker shortage

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin child care experts say low wages and a lack of benefits are making it difficult for child care centers to attract and retain workers, particularly in rural areas.

Jodi Widuch is the executive director of The Parenting Place, an agency that provides free services and referrals to child care providers and families. She tells Wisconsin Public Radio that child care centers are competing for employees with school districts, which have better compensation packages.

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Gina Paige says the agency is working to address the employment challenges. The department's REWARD Wisconsin Stipend Program gives child care and early-education workers a wage stipend for staying in their fields.

Wisconsin school districts have also started programs to help high school students earn certificates to work in licensed child care centers.

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