SFTA Member Network:

Family Resource Centers (FRCs) and Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs)

Table of Contents

  • Letter from the Executive Director
  • Importance of Early Childhood Investments
  • Early Childhood By the Numbers
  • Pyramid Model Connectors
  • CCR&R & FRC Highlights
  • 2023 SFTA Programming Data
  • Advocacy
  • Announcements
  • Upcoming Events
  • Snapshot of Members
  • Staff Spotlight
  • Staff & Board Members

A Letter from SFTA Leadership:

Greetings! This quarter, SFTA celebrates our network’s continued successes, including our annual Advocacy Day. Led by Advocacy Specialist Sarah Kazell, and in partnership with United Way of Wisconsin, SFTA organized a blended in-person and virtual Advocacy Day on April 4. SFTA members and partners participated in meetings with legislators to advocate for sustained investment in early childhood and family support programming. In total, our members and partners held 34 meetings and put forward SFTA’s 2023 State Policy agenda, promoting investment in CCR&Rs, FRCS, Partner Up!, and Child Care Counts. 

The time spent on advocacy is paying dividends. On May 4, the Joint Committee on Finance approved a motion to increase the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board’s budget by $1,000,000 annually, effectively doubling the annual funding for FRCs. This is the first time FRCs have been specifically written into the Wisconsin State Budget. Our work is not done; we must double our messaging to ensure this budget passes with FRC funding included! 

SFTA and several of our CCR&R partners traveled to Washington, D.C. this month to advocate for early childhood at the federal level. Kathy Mullally, Renee Ernsting, Paula Breese, Becca Elbert, Laura Lash, and I each attended 5 legislative meetings to promote federal investment in early childhood. 

Our advocacy efforts continue to be one way we work to fulfill our mission. We advocate for critical investments in early childhood workforce and supports, family support, and public-private partnerships that will bolster and sustain early childhood services in all communities. 

As we continue through the second quarter, we look forward to bringing you more snapshots of the people and passion that drive our work and invite you to celebrate successes with us. 

In partnership,

Matricia Patterson, MSW, MSM

Executive Director, Supporting Families Together Association

Importance of Early Childhood Investments:

Child Care Counts (CCC) is funded from the Federal American Rescue Plan; payments are being reduced in June and ending in January unless it is continued in the state budget. Without the continuation of Child Care Counts, a recent WECAN (Wisconsin Early Childhood Action Needed) survey found about 11% of all child care businesses have indicated they will immediately close, and an additional 15% say closure will be imminent. Another 50% will raise rates, on average, 25%. This is between $40-$60 per WEEK per CHILD. 

For more information on how you can promote investment in early childhood, visit supportingfamiliestogether.org. 

Early Childhood by the Numbers:

Of child care providers responding to their most recent annual Business Information Form: 


  • 40% offer after school care 
  • 38% are able to serve children with physical, cognitive, sensory, and/or emotional behavioral disabilities 
  • 36% offer before school care 
  • 20% offer drop-in care 
  • 10% offer temporary or emergency care 
  • 1% offer care on a 24-hour schedule 

Pyramid Model Connectors

Through a partnership with SFTA and Wisconsin’s CCR&Rs, the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health (WI-AIMH) seeks to maintain and enhance regional access to Pyramid Model training and technical assistance. CCR&Rs will staff Pyramid Model Connectors, who will provide Pyramid Model training and technical assistance based on regional need. This may include the Infant/Toddler training series, the 8 part training series, internal coaching, and technical assistance in program wide Pyramid Model implementation. To learn more about Pyramid Model training and supports in your area, contact your local CCR&R


ECERS-3: Identifying Gaps and Equity Challenges Project

SFTA and 4C For Children are engaged in a collaboration with the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute to identify gaps and equity challenges in ECERS-3.  The project will explore the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Third Edition (ECERS-3) from a lens of bias and cultural responsivity in order to identify ways the measure can be improved.  UNC will examine associations among scores on ECERS-3 and a more nuanced measure of sociocultural equity and responsiveness—Equity in Early Learning and Assessment (EELA)—to look for possible gaps in the ECERS-3.  They will also explore interactions among lead teacher race and rater race as well as differences in ECERS-3 scores by classroom racial composition to look for possible racial/ethnic biases related to scoring. 

As a project partner, SFTA is responsible for recruiting child care teachers to participate in the study. The dual-agency team of reliable raters-Amanda Austin, Yaret Moreno, Ashley Harrell, and Paola Garcia- performs on-site observations and submits data for the project. The project will continue through the summer and wrap up in August 2023. For more information, visit https://supportingfamiliestogether.org/ecers-3-research-study/. 

Family Support Services

The best way to describe the impact family support services have on parents/caregivers through their local Family Resource Center is to hear it directly from a participant! As one local parent from the Family Resource Center of Sheboygan County stated, “As a first time mom, I received a phone call asking if I was interested in supports from the FRC and it was extremely helpful. There were times I had trouble getting my child into their crib, taking away the bottle; all those big issues that parents seem to have. My parent educator was there to help me and for that I am extremely grateful”.  


Family Resource Centers offer free or low cost services to all families in their communities that are tailored towards local needs and designed to strengthen families. Common services available through FRCs are parenting support programs such as play groups, parenting helplines, parent cafes, parenting classes, support navigating community resources, and so much more. To find out if you have a FRC in your community, click on the interactive map on SFTA’s website! 

Families Are Saying:

“Nobody teaches us how to be a parent and this wonderful program allows us to learn, and share, and be part of a community and that is something that is priceless.” 

Conscious Discipline Parenting Education Curriculum Training

On May 18th, several FRC staff from across the state will be trained in the Conscious Discipline Parenting Education Curriculum Training. Through this full-day training, staff will learn how to train child care staff in Conscious Discipline and help them to make the connection between home and school to strengthen the child’s ability to self-regulate and learn social-emotional skills and to give parents and educators skills in positive behavior management. 

Breastfeeding Friendly

SFTA, through a contract with DHS and in collaboration with 4C for Children and the African American Breastfeeding Network, is working to increase the number of child care programs that are designated as Breastfeeding Friendly. Using the 10 Steps to Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Centers Resource Kit as a guide, local breastfeeding coalitions, local health agencies, and Child Care Resource & Referral agencies work with providers to learn about breastfeeding and to help them improve their practices, policies, and child care environments to better support nursing families. Facilities undergo assessments, create action plans, and receive technical assistance to make needed improvements.  Once they meet the 10 Steps, providers are awarded and recognized as “Breastfeeding Friendly. Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care – Wisconsin Breastfeeding Coalition (wibreastfeeding.com) 

SFTA has also worked with DHS to translate the Wisconsin Breastfeeding Friendly online training into Spanish. Both English and Spanish versions of the training are available at this website: Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Online Training – Wisconsin Breastfeeding Coalition (wibreastfeeding.com). After completion of the course, participants can receive Wisconsin Registry credit.  

2023 SFTA Statewide Network Programming by the Numbers

  • Pre-Licensing: 68 new programs completed Pre-licensing in Quarter 1 2023.

  • PartnerUp!: 1,239 child care slots paid for with $3.4 million in true cost of care payments to providers in Quarter 1 2023.

  • Training: SFTA and our members hosted 150 training events and trained 1,594 unique participants in Quarter 1 2023.

  • FRC: SFTA recently finalized membership renewals for 2023 and had a 100% renewal rate of previous members. 

  • CCR&R: 1,123 families received child care referrals in Quarter 1 2023.

Advocacy Updates

Advocacy Day 2023

On April 4th, SFTA & United Way of

Wisconsin celebrated an all-day in person and virtual Advocacy Day event! Advocacy Day kicked off with a virtual panel filled with expert panelists giving advice to advocates on best practices for attending legislative meetings and communicating with policymakers. 

Then, advocates from our network agencies:  

Northwest Family Connections, Child Care Partnership, 4C for Children, Family Connections Inc, Family Connections Inc., SFTA, Watertown Family Connections, Childcaring, Childcaring, CCR&R, 4Cand United Way, headed to the Capital and spent the day discussing local child care and family support priorities with WI legislators.  

Collectively, 34 meetings in person and virtual meetings were conducted! We're incredibly proud of all our advocates for their ongoing advocacy work and their unending commitment to making changes on behalf of children, families, and providers! 

SFTA’s 2023 Budget Priorities:

  • CCR&R Infrastructure: $3.3 million annual budget investment

  • FRC Infrastructure: $5 million budget investment

  • Partner Up! Sustainability: $22 million budget investment

  • Child Care Counts: $340 million budget investment


Partner Up! Grant Program 

The Partner Up! grant program will provide funding to support partnerships between businesses who purchase slots at existing regulated child care providers. The various Partner Up! cohorts have been funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act (CRRSA), the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), and Quality Jobs, Equity, Strategy and Training (QUEST).The funding from this program can be used to increase staff compensation, reserve child care slots for local business employees, improve the quality of a child care program, and more. 

The competitive application period for Cohort 3 of the Partner Up! grant program closed May 12, 2023. 


Determination and notification of Cohort 3 awards is anticipated later in May and June. 


Visit projectgrowth.wi.gov 

Partner Up! Is administered by Supporting Families Together Association in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and Wisconsin’s nine Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs). 

Business Child Care Advocates (BCCAs) are staff members at CCR&Rs who conduct outreach to businesses for Project Growth, mainly about the Partner Up! program; connect businesses and regulated child care providers; and provide technical assistance to businesses and providers participating in Partner Up! To find your local BCCA, visit here.

FRC of Quality Accreditation

As FRC’s begin to focus on best practice and high-quality support and services, SFTA has designed a FRC of Quality Accreditation process to distinguish quality FRC's. These benchmarks of quality provide a road map for FRCs to build upon to ensure quality practices are in place to achieve the most optimal outcomes for Wisconsin’s children and families.  

More information about how to get accredited is available on SFTA’s new FRC of Quality Accreditation website page.

Upcoming Events

Look for a new Abusive Head Trauma Prevention Train the Trainer event this fall! The Abusive Head Trauma Prevention – Training of Trainers is for those individuals who have previously completed an Abusive Head Trauma Prevention Training and are interested in training others. After completing the Abusive Head Trauma Prevention – Training of Trainers, your name and contact information will be submitted to the Department of Children and Families. Your information will be listed on the list of DCF-Approved Trainers.

For more information, visit here.

Snapshot of SFTA's Members

Find your local CCR&R and FRC here!

Staff Spotlight: Meet the Partner Up! Team

Staff Spotlight: Debi Peterson

Debi Peterson is a Partner Up! Specialist at SFTA, assisting program participants with contracts and changes, payment inquiries, and understanding general program policy. Debi works tirelessly to keep internal program processes moving smoothly. Debi has been with Partner Up! since the rollout and has contributed to key changes and improvements over the last year.  

Number of years in the profession: 33 years 

Favorite thing about working at SFTA: My favorite thing about working at SFTA is knowing the hard work SFTA and our CCRR Agencies do every day makes a huge impact on the lives of children, families, and child care providers around the state of Wisconsin. 

What do you want families/providers to know? I want families and providers to know that SFTA staff and our member agency staff are dedicated to advocating for and providing them what they need to raise their children in the communities where they live.

Staff Spotlight: Laura Lash

Laura came to Partner Up! as a Business Child Care Advocate (BCCA) at Child Care Partnership in Eau Claire. Her role has evolved to that of Partner Up! Specialist, and she now supports BCCAs around the state, providing onboarding, resources, and supports they need to offer technical assistance to program participants. Laura assists with contracts and contract changes and answering general questions about the program and its policies. 

Number of years in the profession: 1 year 

Favorite thing about working at SFTA:  The drive for betterment and change for families 

What do you want families/providers to know? We strive to be the advocate you need. We trust you to give us the best feedback you can so that we can better serve you.   

Staff Spotlight: Jeff Mund

Jeff Mund is a Data Specialist at SFTA, who devotes a substantial portion of his time to ensuring Partner Up! systems run smoothly. Jeff creates all applications and forms, maintains Salesforce records for program participants, and handles all data requests and reporting for the program.  

Number of years in the profession: 1 year 

Favorite thing about working at SFTA: I enjoy the support I receive from all employees, on all levels of the organization. 

What do you want families/providers to know? I am excited to be able to employ data & data visualization methods to support the incredibly important Child Care/ECE field in Wisconsin. 

Staff Spotlight: Jordan Sexton-Schoenmann

Jordan is the Partner Up! Financial Specialist at SFTA. Jordan handles all billing and provider payments for the program, responds to billing and payment inquiries, and assists with budgets, forecasts, and financial tracking for the program. 

Number of years in the profession: 8 years 

Favorite thing about working at SFTA: There is something to smile about every day! 

What do you want families/providers to know? We will do everything possible to ensure that we ease their burdens. 

Staff Spotlight: Jared Hickey

Jared came to Partner Up! as a BCCA at The Parenting Place in La Crosse and has recently transitioned to BCCA services on a statewide scale. Jared focuses his time on outreach, business engagement, and advocacy for child care, bringing awareness of the need for both public and private investment in bringing solutions to the child care crisis. 

Number of years in the profession: 1 year  

Favorite thing about working at SFTA:  The staff and everyone I interact with are very friendly. 

What do you want families/providers to know? To providers: I appreciate your hard work and dedication; it does not go unnoticed. Please don't ever forget how many families and lives you affect in a positive way. To me, that is one of the greatest rewards about child care. My goal, when I advocate and speak with businesses, is to shine a light on families/providers and how we all can work together and advance child care and move forward. If you see me, stop me and say hi, and tell me your story because I want to hear it. Thank you again for everything that you do. 

Staff Spotlight: Annie Confer

Annie is the newest member of the SFTA team and will serve as a Partner Up! Specialist, providing customer service and technical assistance around intake forms and contracts. Annie has extensive experience in non-profit grant-related programming and is excited to bring her knowledge and experience to support families and providers in Wisconsin. 

Number of years in the profession: 7 years 

Favorite thing about working at SFTA: The fact that we are helping children. 

What do you want families/providers to know? People matter, communities matter, and together we can do it! 

SFTA Staff & Board Members


Amanda Austin

Penny Chase

Annie Confer

Connie Dunlap

Alyssa Hannam

Jared Hickey

Sarah Kazell

Laura Lash

(in collaboration with Child Care Partnership)

Max Luck

Yaret Moreno

Jeffrey Mund

Connor Neeck

Matricia Patterson

Debi Peterson

Cassandra Phoenix

Jordan Sexton-Schoemann

Sherri Underwood

Julie Walter

Diana Zorn


Renee Ernsting

Marita Herkert-Oakland

Kathy Mullally

Mary Beth Plane, MSSW, PhD

Agnes Ring

Andrew J. Turner

Jason Wutt

Supporting Families Together Association


[email protected]


Early Childhood and Family Support Services - A wise investment!

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