In response to the State Journal's "Workers wanted" series about Wisconsin businesses grapple with a growing worker shortage, it’s important to recognize an affected industry that is vital to our workforce: child care.

Quality child care provides a positive learning environment for Wisconsin’s youngest children during their early years when research shows brain development is most rapid, and experiences help determine children’s later success. Child care also allows parents the freedom to work without worrying about their child, which benefits employers and the economy.

Yet the number of regulated Wisconsin child care providers has continued to decrease annually, limiting availability of quality child care.

As in other jobs, the demand for high skills and education for insufficient wages absolutely plays a role in this decrease. A 2016 Child Care Aware report shows the average annual Wisconsin child care provider's income is $20,410. That’s nearly $34,400 below the basic survival wage for a family of four and almost $2,800 below that of a single adult.

More dollars must be invested in our child care workforce so our state can attract and retain workers across all industries now and build a strong workforce for tomorrow.

Kelly McClurg, Madison