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Child care providers, parents adjust to new WI facility limits

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(WKOW) -- After Gov. Tony Evers put new restrictions on child care facilities amid the coronavirus outbreak, providers and parents alike rushed to adjust.

“Literally going down the list, family by family, asking, 'Do they have care? What is this going to look like?'” said Beth Drew, director of Small Wonders Learning Center in Milton.

Gov. Evers' order limits centers to a maximum of 50 children and 10 staff present at one time. Small Wonders has around 130 children and 20 staff, so Drew said the center made the tough decision to close starting Monday.

“We need to be able to stop this," she said. "And this is the way to do it. It’s not easy. It’s scary.”

Drew says she agrees with Evers' order, and says people should stay at home at all costs. She is worried for her staff, however, many who have been with her since the center opened in 1998.

"I hope that my employees will be able to file unemployment for even this short term,” she said.

Gov. Evers' order not only limits child care facilities by numbers, but also instructs facilities to prioritize children of essential workers, like first responders.

Drew says Small Wonders made sure their children of first responders had another way to look after their kids before deciding to close.

“That really did factor into our decision today," she said. "I feel that, in terms of our particular community, we’ve been able to take care of that.”

Cathy Wagner lives in Racine County. She's an assistant fire chief for the Rochester Volunteer Fire Company, an EMT and an ER nurse.

"And a mom," she added.

Her children are older and don't require child care, but she works with people whose children do.

She says with many daycares closing, people should reach out to help -- because people like her can't work from home.

“The people that are out there and are maybe bored and there’s nothing to do, maybe lend a hand and offer help to those people," she said. "So that people like myself can continue to help and be out there helping people so we can get through this and move on.”

Small Wonders in Milton hopes to be back open in two weeks, but will reassess the situation as it continues to develop.

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