Why Early Childhood?

Did you know that 90% of a child’s brain develops in the first five years of life? Experiences during these early years will set the stage for the rest of his or her life. Children thrive when they have high-quality care in enriching environments with nurturing caregivers who foster their growth, development, and learning.

Wisconsin Child Care: By the Numbers


average yearly cost of child care in Wisconsin


of Wisconsin child care programs earned the highest quality rating


average yearly income of a Wisconsin child care provider

  • The average cost of child care per child ($9,072) is roughly equivalent to the average cost of University of Wisconsin tuition and fees ($9,104).
  • Infant-age care is the most expensive, at an average of $10,332. This is greater than annual average Wisconsin rent ($10,044)
  • Having two children in center-based care ($19,200) is significantly more expensive than the average annual mortgage ($17,016).
  • A Wisconsin family at the poverty line would need to pay 48% of their annual income to enroll an infant full-time in a child care center, or 74% of their annual income for two children.
(All data as of 2019. Taken from Child Care Aware of America’s Child Care Data Center.)

Browse more data on Wisconsin child care affordability and access on Child Care Aware of America’s new Child Care Data Center

View Wisconsin Data

The Child Care Trilemma


What is the Trilemma? The connection between child care Quality, Compensation for child care providers, and Affordability for parents makes fixing the child care system especially difficult. All three must be strengthened for quality child care programs to survive — but it is extremely hard to improve one without taking needed funds from the others.


Providing high quality care is expensive! Providers must attend trainings, purchase toys and materials, and constantly replenish consumable materials such as art supplies, safe cleaning products, and healthy foods. The higher the quality of care, the more it costs to provide — so the provider must either take less compensation for her/himself, or increase the cost so the care becomes less affordable for parents.


Child care providers are asked to be specialists in early childhood as they guide our children through the most important developmental years, but they are not compensated as professionals and only a small percentage receive benefits such as health insurance through their employer. If a provider is not able to support her family on her income, she must choose between leaving the field or increasing the cost for parents.


Every parent can tell you the cost of child care is a huge economic burden. On average, Wisconsin parents spend 14% of their income on child care — twice the national recommendation. If a child care program wants to lower its price to remain affordable to parents, the program will not be able to earn the funds it needs to meet the costs of providing high quality care or compensate staff fairly.

Supporting SFTA’s Work

Supporting Families Together Association envisions a future where all Wisconsin children have access to the highest quality care.

We work with our statewide member agencies to support effective programming that positively impacts children, parents, child care providers, and the world of early childhood care and education. And we could not do this work without the help of supporters like you. Contributing to SFTA is not just an investment in us, but an investment in the education and well-being of Wisconsin’s children, their parents, and their care providers.


The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.