Originally published on WLUK by Brady Meyer & Ashley Kaster, FOX 11 News — Addressing needs in child care and early childhood development in the Fox Valley– Outagamie County is trying to do that by investing more than $2 million to build a new family resource center. Officials say creating resources like this, is desperately needed.”There isn’t enough child care resources to meet the demands of working families- that’s number one,” Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson said. “Number two, were seeing the needs coming from especially younger families. Those needs, those expectations, have changed.”
In just a few years, the county will have a central hub to provide parents with additional resources. But it’s not a traditional daycare. Instead parents will stay at the center with their kids.
“They’re getting the resources and support and parent education and other things they might need they didn’t know where to go or who to ask,” Barb Tengesdal said.
First Five Fox Valley will operate the center. The non-profit focuses on the development of kids five and younger. Tengesdal is the organization’s Executive Director.
“We work with all types of partners in the health sector, education sector, in child care, in early intervention,” Tengesdal said. “We bring all those groups together so that we have collective impact, that we’re not functioning anymore in silos.”
Planning will begin next year, with construction starting in 2025. Some public and private funding is still needed, though the county is covering a majority of the cost.
“We believe they have a very compelling argument that we’re going to see some very big changes in this area,” Nelson said.
This grant money is made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act. Recipients of these grants are chosen carefully. With uncertainty over similar funding in Madison, Nelson said this assistance is crucial.
“We are proud that we can get all these different stakeholders together,” Nelson said. “We have the county board, county executive coming together, identifying these problems and then putting together practical solutions.”
Some core elements have been factored into the planning from the start.
“Building it out with training space and lease space for partners to have offices in and a play space that’s free and accessible for families to come and hang out at,” Tengesdal said.
There are more decision to come, including a location, but programming is expected to begin in 2026.
Outagamie County also awarded a similar grant to the Child Care Resource and Referral. The organization will use its 750-thousand dollar grant to create a child care essential services program. It’s designed to help parents and childcare providers by centralizing services.