States Take Action: Wisconsin


In Wisconsin, 3,952 children under the age of three are enrolled in Early Head Start programs, and 8,445 3-year olds and 7,361 4-year olds are enrolled in Head Start programs. Overall in the state, approximately 64 percent of 4-year olds are enrolled in state-funded preschool programs.  Since it became a state in 1848, Wisconsin’s Constitution has a promised to provide free, voluntary education for four-year-olds. Additionally, the average annual cost of center-based infant care in the state is $9,939.

  • What’s happening in the Legislature:  In a recent show of bipartisanship, the Legislature overwhelming passed a joint resolution that the Legislature will take into account the principles of early childhood brain development in their deliberations, and note the role of early intervention and investment in early years as important strategies.
  • Funding increases and additional support: This year the state invested $35 million of federal grant funds from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge programs to strengthen YoungStar; establish an early childhood longitudinal data system; improve professional development; and improve family engagement and support. There is still strong support for early education in Wisconsin and many in the state believe the strongest case for early childhood investments can be made through the business case.  The president and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families wrote  in the Journal Sentinel in Wisconsin and calls “an investment in the Strong Start for America’s Children Act … an investment that is sure to pay off, not just for our children’s future but for our nation’s economic future as well.”