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Senator Ron Johnson calls on mothers to get government help to staff child care centers

US Senator Ron Johnson has called on mothers on public assistance to help other mothers by staffing child care centers that care for their children.

And he said so — for the second time since 2016 — despite Wisconsin law prohibiting state subsidy payments from going to a certified child care provider where an employee’s child is receiving care. .

“When you have mothers on different kinds of public support, for me an elegant solution would be, why not have them help childcare staff for other mothers?” he said Tuesday during a telephone town hall.

Since Russia annexed Crimea and interfered in the 2016 US election, US Senator Ron Johnson has distinguished between Republican leaders’ praise of Russia and what he sees as his long support for Ukraine.

“I think there’s an imaginative solution here,” the Oshkosh Republican continued, adding that his idea would be a win for taxpayers, mothers and children.

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Child care centers across the country are facing staffing shortages. The median salary for child care workers nationwide, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $25,460 per year or $12.24 per hour. The average wage for daycare workers in Wisconsin is $7.50 to $13 an hour, which for a 40-hour workweek puts a family of four at or below the rate. federal poverty reduction of 2022.

“Ron Johnson cares no less for the parents and children of Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Philip Shulman said in a statement. “Instead of offering meaningful solutions that would cut costs, he is pushing a self-serving agenda that is hurting Wisconsin families.”

His comments came in response to a caller asking for Johnson’s solution to help small businesses and, in particular, daycares.

“I understand, you know, having a mother responsible for a group of children plus her own children, she may not be looking after the other children. Again, I understand the concern,” he said.

“There needs to be an imaginative solution where mothers who receive help can be involved in child care centers for other mothers and just be a type of cooperative arrangement here,” he said. for follow-up.

Johnson added that this idea had not yet been explored and said it posed problems. But it wasn’t the first time he had explored the idea.

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In 2016, Johnson offered the same solution to WIZM radio in La Crosse.

“We have prohibitions against that, providing child care to a facility that takes care of your children,” he said. “I think we need to reduce some of these policies. Let’s work smart, let’s rethink all these programs, all the laws. Almost everything has to be redesigned. »

The law restricting eligible recipients of child care subsidies was signed into law after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found in 2009 that child care providers were collecting subsidies while watching each other’s children.

schools allow it

Responding to his call to action, Johnson’s spokeswoman Alexa Henning said Johnson believes the feds are exacerbating more problems than they are solving and wants listeners to start going off track. beaten.

“His suggestion was to look at Wisconsin law that prevents a child care provider from receiving funds if an employee’s child is receiving care,” she said. “He said he understands why this law is in place, but suggested we reevaluate it to see if there is a way to create a win for children and parents. Why should child care centers be different from schools that allow teachers to teach in government-funded schools where their children attend? »

Responding to Johnson’s proposal on Tuesday, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and state treasurer Sarah Godlewski said, “We have a full-fledged child care crisis and a record number of mothers are being weeded out. of the labor market. There are common-sense solutions to these problems, but Ron Johnson’s “imaginative” idea would punish mothers and take us back to the 1950s. I’ve got news for this guy: we’re not going back there.

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Democratic candidate for the US Senate, said: “The pandemic has effectively set back a generation of women’s participation in the workforce, and Ron Johnson’s solution to the child care crisis children – Equal Pay Day no less – is to increase their burden. ”

Past statements

In January, Johnson said it shouldn’t be controversial to worry about the “federal government wanting to take more control over your children,” amid heightened national debate over the teaching of systemic racism in schools.

“What, does the feds want to start indoctrinating our children even earlier?” he said.

Senator Ron Johnson's tangled relationship with Ukraine and Russia

His comments came after an interview in late January with La Crosse TV station WKBT in which he said he had ‘never really felt it was society’s responsibility to take care of other people’s children’. .

His comments refer to a Democratic-backed child care subsidy included in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better proposal, which is currently stalled.

Johnson added that he agrees with some federal programs supporting people who cannot support themselves, “but parents need to be responsible for their children.”

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