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Wisconsin mothers search for solutions to child care deserts

Mothers look for solutions to child care deserts
Wisconsin mothers look for solutions to child care deserts 05:33

More than half of the U.S. population lives in a so-called child care desert, where there is little or no access to child care, according to the Center for American Progress. Two mothers in Wisconsin are trying to solve the problem in their area.

In the state of Wisconsin, there's only one spot available at child care centers for every three kids, and that's considered a child care desert.

In Outgami County, with a population of close to 200,000, more than 1,200 children are on a waitlist for child care. Many centers have stopped using waitlists entirely because of the high demand.

Last November, a local daycare center shut down. Many parents worried about where they could send their kids and how it would affect their jobs. Kelsey Riedesel, a local mom, told CBS News that she called 12 other daycares, only to be told they all had waitlists of at least a year.

"So I actually did lose my job because it impacted my performance too much," Riedesel told CBS News. 

"It was hard," she added. "I have my family first and then my job and obviously got repercussions from it."

Two other full-time working moms, Virginia Moss and Tiffany Simon, decided to take action. They bought the building that had housed the closed daycare center and, within two months, Moss, a physical therapist, and Simon, a data consultant, opened Joyful Beginnings Academy.

"We had dinner together, two nights in a row...and we're just running numbers and figuring out what's gonna make sense. And, um, we, we felt like we could do it," Moss said.

They hired 20 daycare workers and management staff and enrolled 75 kids.

Lea Spude said if Moss and Simon hadn't opened the center, "I probably would've had to turn around and sell my home, move in with my family." 

Adam Guenther, another parent with a child enrolled at Joyful Beginnings, said if the center hadn't opened, one of the two parents probably would have had to quit their job.

The daycare workers at Joyful Beginnings can earn up to $17 an hour. The state average is between $11 and $13.

"We've seen both sides, we felt the pain, both sides," Simon said. "And so now we can go and educate that this is a problem and we need to do something about it."

It's a small fix in a desperate area. Joyful Beginnings already has a waitlist of nearly 100 kids.

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