DCF Child Care Grant Brand and Campaign Development

Stabilizing child care across Wisconsin

Access to affordable, licensed childcare is vital to Wisconsin's families, communities, local economies, and workforce. However, across the state, businesses were experiencing historic challenges in recruiting and retaining their workforce, while Wisconsin families were facing barriers in locating accessible and affordable childcare. Seeking to better understand perceptions about early child care and education, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) turned to KW2 to conduct statewide research to understand the best way to support families across the state. 


We first completed qualitative research via key informant interviews with Wisconsin business leaders, which informed a broad, quantitative survey reaching businesses in every county in the state. The research told a clear story – nearly all employers that participated had experienced at least one business impact due to a child care-related disruption, and 83% of employers agreed that access to affordable child care would decrease workforce shortages. However, we also consistently heard from organizations of all sizes and industries that they were not convinced it was their role to support employees' child care needs. We needed a plan to help businesses not only grow and succeed, but also better support their workforce and connect families to affordable, licensed child care.


The insights from research helped to support DCF as they led the investment of a two-year, $30 million dollar program designed to stabilize our communities’ childcare systems and bolster Wisconsin’s economy. KW2 was at the forefront, naming and branding the new Project Growth initiative, as well as two grant programs: Partner Up! And Dream Up! The work continued with a statewide campaign to promote the launch of these programs and drive applications. Our team even conducted follow up research to gauge the efficacy of the programs and the impact on the gaps identified from the employer research.


The Project Growth grant initiatives connected over 200 businesses and 300 child care programs across the state. In follow-up research, a whopping 94% of employers surveyed indicated they would participate in Partner Up! again, and two-thirds said the program had a significant impact on employee morale and the success of their business. Our research engaging Wisconsin employers has been leveraged by DCF leadership and the Governor's Leadership Council on Early Years (LCEY) to educate decision-makers across the state about the impacts of access to licensed childcare. And most importantly – thousands of children were able to attend quality child care programs during this critical period of their development.

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