With child care programs closing at alarming rates across Wisconsin due to staffing, administrative burden, and financial challenges, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) recognized an opportunity to help children, families, and early educators through a child care program-focused solution. Along with community partnerships, it developed Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) in 2017 to help programs succeed.
In 2018, Wisconsin Partners, of which WECA is a founding member, launched a series of community conversations in Vernon and Monroe counties, now known as Kickapoo Conversations, which is a citizen-based forum envisioning the future of the region. These conversations looked to answer the question: How can we improve access to quality child care in our region? The innovative model of WEESSN was born through these conversations and officially launched in 2019 in Vernon and Monroe Counties.
During 2019 and 2020, WEESSN expanded this model to several other regions of the state with a deep level of services now known as Tier 3. In the fall of 2021, WEESSN services were broken out into three tiers (see homepage for more information), two of which would be offered entirely virtually and made available in English and Spanish languages. Today, WEESSN operates as a state-wide shared services network serving a majority of providers in Wisconsin. WEESSN is known nationally for groundbreaking and innovative solutions to the challenges in the child care industry.
WEESSN continues to innovate and leverage resources to serve as many child care programs in Wisconsin as possible. The team is humbled by an outpouring of support and generous contributions that keep the network in operation. In collaboration with partners, including DCF, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Co-Create, Early Learning Ventures, Satellite Family Child Care, Opportunities Exchange, and LegUp, WEESSN is strengthening programmatic infrastructure with evaluation, strategic planning, technology advances, and increased supports for high-quality ECE environments. The challenges facing the early childhood community are greater than ever before, and WEESSN is well-positioned and eager to continue to provide much-needed relief.